Technology serves as a force multiplier

In the LAPD, high-tech gizmos are increasing efficiency and boosting the ranks

     "Obviously, there is an increase in finding stolen or abandoned cars, and we are getting those cars off the street, which improves the quality of life for the community," Gomez explains. "We also are finding the bad guys who are stealing these cars."

     The Smart Cars also have facial and fingerprint recognition. As Gomez describes, in a traditional traffic stop, an officer detains a person for an offense such as drinking and driving. Finding that the subject did not have an ID on him, the person would be taken back to the station, fingerprinted and await the results from the computer. All this effort, Gomez says, was for a simple violation. If the person had ID on him, he would have received a ticket and the officer would have been done in 10 minutes.

     By having the fingerprint readers and facial recognition in the car, the LAPD can identify the person, decrease the amount of contact with him and give him a citation or take no action, whichever is appropriate.

Connecting the dots

     The next phase in the LAPD's technology use is COPLINK, an analysis and decision support tool for rapidly identifying criminal suspects, relationships and patterns.

     "Anytime you can give officers more information and linked reports in a faster, automated fashion, certainly it is a benefit," Gomez comments.

     "Providing officers with effective tools for driving down crime, thwarting gang activity and countering terrorist's threats is critical to sustaining and improving on the results we've already achieved in Los Angeles," adds Bratton. "With COPLINK in our arsenal, the LAPD will be able to combine the knowledge of our officers with powerful analytical, visualization and decision support tools to speed the connection between suspects and their crimes, and get them off the street faster."

     COPLINK was designed to be a tactical lead generation and analytics tool, notes Robert Griffin, CEO of Knowledge Computing Corp. in Tucson, Arizona. "It is designed to take seemingly large amounts of unrelated data and determine relationships and co-occurrences in relationships to help provide tactical support when you're searching for bad guys," he explains.

     Currently, officers search across several operational data sources when looking for such relational information. The LAPD's data sources include the records management system; jail management system; specialty databases such as gang and sex offenders registries; and probation, parole and court citation systems.

     "The problem is each of these operational data sources sit on disparate hardware platforms and different types of software systems," Griffin explains. "As a result, if I'm looking for a bad guy or trying to find information from those systems, I may have to sit at five to 10 different terminals. COPLINK takes all that information, assimilates it and consolidates the results into a large data warehouse."

     According to Griffin, in the first phase with the LAPD, four operational data sources were integrated into COPLINK, "Once we've done that, COPLINK becomes what we refer to as a node," Griffin says.

     This COPLINK node can then connect with other COPLINK nodes and provide information sharing across multiple jurisdictions. The LAPD will ultimately be connected to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's (LASD's) node. Griffin says they are building a third COPLINK node in Los Angeles, which will connect to the 45 relating jurisdictions around the county.

     They then can be connected to Orange County, which can connect to San Diego, to Phoenix, to Tucson, etc. As a result, police officers are able to find data across multiple jurisdictions, which is vital because, as Griffin notes, criminals today are highly mobile.

     "We already have some great success stories out of the LAPD," Griffin says. "There was a serial robbery case with some very violent people. While the LAPD was not able to get all of the information from their COPLINK node, by connecting to the LASD's node, they were able to get a lot more information, including the identity of the vehicle they were using and who had relationships to the vehicle. By using surveillance, they eventually caught the suspects robbing a little old lady in front of a bank.

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