Technology In The Criminal Justice Enviroment

ILJ has worked with many state and local criminal justice agencies on decisionmaking, procurement, implementation, strategic planning, and impact evaluation of technology acquisition and integration projects. ILJ has also researched many issues relating to computer aided dispatch systems in connection with agency objectives such as community policing support, problem solving, and data analysis. ILJ’s expertise includes specialized areas such as Geographic Information System (GIS) crime mapping and interoperable communications.

Past Projects

Assessment of the COPS Interoperable Communications Technology Program

ILJ conducted an assessment of 65 projects funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), U. S. Department of Justice, under the COPS Interoperable Communications Technology (ICTP) Program. Between 2003 and 2006, COPS awarded nearly $250 million in ICTP grants to support multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional projects designed to enhance communications interoperability. The assessment included telephone surveys, document reviews, and case studies. Products include a report on best practices and lessons learned, intended for wide distribution to the field; and other reports to COPS and its federal partners that includes recommendations for future technology grant programs.

Identifying and Measuring the Effects of Information Technologies on Law Enforcement Agencies

For the Office of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), ILJ conducted two surveys of 290 COPS MORE grantees about their implementation of various information technologies obtained with grant funds, including: the reason for choosing those technologies; implementation and training approaches; changes in policies and procedures; and impacts of technology on the organization. ILJ’s Guidebook on Identifying and Measuring Impacts of Information Technologies, based largely on information from the surveys, was published by COPS, and provides detailed information on information technologies such as automated field reporting systems; computer aided dispatch; and systems for records management, arrest and booking, and automated fingerprint identification.

Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, D.C., Information and Telecommunications Systems

Dr. Tom McEwen and other ILJ information technology staff worked on the "Design and Implementation of Enterprise-Wide Information and Telecommunications Capabilities" project for the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). This effort replaced all major communications and information management systems in the Department. The MPD contracted with Mitretek Systems, Inc., in McLean, Virginia, to assess, plan, and design a modern information technology architecture, and ILJ was one of two subcontractors, assisting the effort with respect to the computer aided dispatch (CAD), records management system (RMS), and PPMS (early warning system). The systems were developed in support of the department’s decentralized community policing approach.

Computer Aided Dispatch in Support of Community Policing

ILJ conducted this research project to determine the extent to which computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems can support community policing and measure performance under new community policing objectives. The study was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) under its “Measuring What Matters” initiative. The researchers found that CAD systems have much to offer community policing because of the richness of the basic data that is collected. However, CAD can be even more effective if enhancements are made that directly support community policing.

Guidebook for Police Practitioners on Designing and Implementing Call Management Strategies to Support Community Policing

For the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) ILJ developed a practical, easy-to-use guidebook for police practitioners on designing and implementing call management strategies to support community policing. The first step in the project involved developing and pre-testing a survey on call management strategies. The questionnaire was mailed to approximately 700 large, medium-sized, and small policing agencies throughout the country. Based on the results, ILJ identified alternative call management strategies. From 30 departments contacted by phone, brief case study reports were written and several police departments were chosen for site visits and detailed analysis. Finally, a guidebook was created for police practitioners on designing and implementing call management strategies to support community policing.

Information Technology Acquisition for Law Enforcement

ILJ developed guidelines for law enforcement agencies, based on organizational constraints and needs, to help police and other law enforcement agencies to identify critical success factors in administering and setting up improved IT capacities. Research included compilation of resources and vendor information and recommendations for the organizational and budgetary impact of new technology in agencies.

Using Microcomputers in Law Enforcement

In addition to delivering a course on Using Microcomputers in Narcotics Investigations, ILJ has developed courses on other law enforcement computer applications including crime analysis, patrol allocation models. Course curricula include:

  • System requirements for hardware and software
  • Use of database packages and spreadsheets
  • Customized versus "off the shelf" software
  • Security of hardware, software, and databases
  • Hidden costs in buying and supporting computer systems
  • Staff training

Partnerships Against Violence Network (PAVNET)

Partnerships Against Violence Network (PAVNET) was developed after the Interdepartmental Working Group on Violence recommended in its report to the President that online information resources be developed to help state and local governments work against violence. Working in connection with the U. S. Departments of Justice, Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor, ILJ provided a variety of services in support of PAVNET, which was developed to provide information on promising programs, funding sources, and technical assistance resources for combating violence. ILJ staff wrote the PAVNET Online User’s Guide for the National Institute of Justice and an internet manual on how to use PAVNET Online. ILJ staff provided assistance and critiques for the developer, logistic support, and training in the use of PAVNET Online.

Criminal Justice Simulation Model

For the Bureau of Justice Assistance, ILJ developed a simulation model of the criminal justice system. The model, called the Criminal Justice System Simulation Interactive Model (CJSSIM), is aimed at analyzing the flow, cost, and average times for processing offenders through the system. CJSSIM allows users to build their system interactively on the screen or use one of several generic systems provided with the model.

The criminal justice simulation model is written in C language for microcomputers and operates in the Microsoft Windows environment. With a graphics interface, the program provides the capacity to model the flow of case- or offender-based events, resource utilization, costs, and time lags among events. Reports include a graphic display of the system; overuse of resources; average times to case disposition; differences in costs, time, and case flows between current and projected situations. It also includes analyses for different tracks through the system. It was tested in Maricopa County, Arizona; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Multnomah County, Oregon.

Investigations of Computer Crimes

In a report for the National Institute of Justice on the experiences of local police and prosecutors in investigating and prosecuting computer crimes, ILJ described fraud and embezzlement using computers and illegal programming techniques, such as trap doors, logic bombs, and salami techniques; and discussed changes in federal and state statutes governing computer crimes. ILJ identified police departments and prosecutors that established computer crime investigation units and were active in prosecuting cases. These agencies were visited to obtain more information on the approaches used. Specific cases were documented to illustrate various techniques and problems in investigating computer crimes.

Evaluation of the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department's Police Management Information System

ILJ conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the Fairfax County Police Department's Police Management Information System (PMIS). The system included several modules: Case History, Arrests, Master Name Index, Warrants, Juvenile Contacts, and Neighborhood Watch. The evaluation determined the department's current and future information requirements. The project included an evaluation of all functions of the systems: data input methods; records management, retention, maintenance, and storage; audit trails; management reports; and on-line queries. Interface requirements with other agencies (General District Court, Office of the Sheriff, and Commonwealth's Attorney) were also examined. Alternative procedures for the collection and input of data reported in the field were investigated. These included direct dial-in procedures, dictaphone systems, optical character readers, and voice-activated systems. Estimates of the level of effort and costs to redesign the PMIS were included in the final report.

National Fire Incident Reporting System

For the National Fire Information Council, ILJ developed and distributed a program that allowed fire departments to easily enter incident and casualty reports. Based on the Version 4 NFIRS system, the program produced records in the required format to facilitate a national fire incident reporting system. The program included interactive edit checks to assure that all fields were valid NFPA 901 codes. The program was designed to operate on IBM microcomputers and all compatible systems. ILJ distributed the Micro NFIRS software package (diskettes, NFIRS User's Manual, and User's Guide) and conducted training for agencies that received the Micro NFIRS package.

Arson Reporting System

For the National Fire Information Council, ILJ developed a management information system to help local and state governments in arson investigations. This system was designed for use by arson investigators to record arson incident and arrest information and to query on names of people associated with an arson or on addresses where arson incidents occurred.

Sample Publications and Products

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