By G. Matthew Snyder, Administrator, IACP Technology Center; and Meghann Tracy, Project Support Specialist, IACP, Alexandria, Virginia
he IACP Excellence in Technology Award Program recognized the 2007 award winners at the 114th Annual IACP Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. This prestigious program showcased superior achievement and innovation in the field of law enforcement communication and information technology. The program is an international competition open to local, tribal, state, provincial, federal, and multijurisdictional law enforcement agencies.
The award program is managed and coordinated by the IACP Technology Center. Any law enforcement agency may make nominations through a Web-based application on the IACP Technology Clearinghouse Web site (www.iacptechnology.org). Four awards (small, medium, large, and multijurisdictional law enforcement agencies) are given annually for each of the following three achievement areas:
- The Excellence in Law Enforcement Communications and Interoperability category recognizes an agency’s implementation of wireless technology to improve mission-critical voice communications, interoperability, and/or information/data sharing.
- The Response to Computer-Related Crime category recognizes an innovative or highly effective approach to computer-related crime, including programs and case-specific achievements either by an agency or organization or through collaborative efforts.
- The Innovation in Information Technology category highlights the achievement of an agency in implementing an innovative information technology that enhances the effectiveness of law enforcement.
The winning agencies were recognized by IACP’s Communications and Technology Committee and Technology Center leaders at an awards luncheon held in conjunction with the annual IACP conference. Kevin Kearns of iXP and IACP fourth vice president Mark Marshall addressed the distinguished gathering of law enforcement leaders and technologists. Each winner was presented with an engraved crystal award. Included here are the summaries of the 2007 winning projects and programs. Additional details and contact information for each project may be found at the IACP Technology Clearinghouse Web site. The IACP Technology Coordination Panel encourages the law enforcement community to seek recognition for new and innovative programs in the 2008 Fifth Annual IACP-iXP Excellence in Technology Awards competition.
Excellence in Law Enforcement
Communications and Interoperability Large Agency Division: Kentucky State Police, Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Network. With coordination by and support from the Kentucky Commonwealth Office of Technology, the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, and the Center for Rural Development, the Kentucky State Police has implemented the Kentucky Wireless Interoperability Network System (KyWINS) Messenger, a statewide instant-messaging system for use by all emergency responders in Kentucky. Modifying Jive Software’s Openfire open-source product to meet system specifications, KyWINS Messenger provides one unifying, central communication tool across several areas and disciplines in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Through any Internet connection or the statewide 800-megahertz (MHz) wireless data communications infrastructure, immediate text communication is available regardless of location. This system not only provides for mobile-to-mobile communications but also allows personnel at any dispatch center in the Commonwealth to quickly communicate with each other in the event of an emergency. These quick avenues of communication help to avoid radio traffic congestion through one-to-one communication and also one-to-many communications through the use of the group conferencing feature. KyWINS Messenger also provides for an immediate broadcast message to all online users in order to spread information rapidly and with little technological knowledge. The system can handle up to 30,000 users.
Regional/Multijurisdictional Agency Division: Danville, Virginia, Police Department, Piedmont Regional Interoperability Project. The Piedmont Regional Voice over IP (VoIP) Pilot Project is a public-private partnership venture between the law enforcement community and Cisco Systems that deployed an open-standard, IP-based voice and data communications system along the Virginia–North Carolina border to provide interoperability for multiple agencies with disparate radio systems. Before the system was implemented, bordering agencies were forced in emergency situations to relay information between dispatch centers through landline telephones and multiple radio frequencies. This complicated arrangement often affected the timeliness and accuracy of the information. The objective of the pilot project was to validate a flexible and affordable VoIP-based interoperability solution that would improve officer safety through direct communication and coordination and would not require the replacement of the existing system. The Cisco Systems IP-based solution now deployed enables direct communication between two or more agencies through frequency linkage. The City of Danville is the project host agency, with the following agencies participating: Virginia State Police; North Carolina Highway Patrol; Pittsylvania County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Office; and Caswell County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office. In addition to meeting the original interoperability objectives, the participating agencies have found the technology improvements to be a catalyst for improved governance and have resulted in greater collaboration and coordination by the participating agencies for more effective enforcement along the Virginia–North Carolina border.
Response to Computer-Related Crime
Large Agency Division: California Highway Patrol, Combating Computer Crime. In response to the growing number of reported network intrusions, computer-related crimes, and threats to the California state government’s computer infrastructure, the California Highway Patrol formed the Computer Crimes Investigation Unit (CCIU). The purpose of the CCIU is to maintain the security of the state’s computer infrastructure by gathering and distributing intelligence information and investigating any crime or threat imposed on a state computer asset. All investigators have advanced training in computer and cellular forensics related to cybercrime and/or terrorism. The CCIU distributes a weekly intelligence report to most of the state’s information security officers and shares intelligence information with these officers for evaluation and dissemination to state agencies and departments that may be affected by identified threats. This vital unit has developed strong partnerships with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Cyber Unit, the U.S. Secret Service, and other allied agency cybercrime task forces and is housed with the FBI and the Sacramento Valley High-Tech Crimes Task Force to better exchange intelligence, resources, and high-technology capabilities.
Regional/Multijurisdictional Agency Division: Indiana State Police, On-Scene Computer Forensics Triage. The paramount goal of the Computer Forensics Field Triage program is to utilize departmental resources efficiently to improve cybercrime investigations in a forensically soun manner. The Indiana State Police found the mode of exclusively conducting examinations in a laboratory setting to be inferior compared with the ability to conduct examinations on the scene. There are also specific circumstances when an on-scene examination is the only viable alternative. In this approach, a number of experienced detectives receive specialized training as “first responders,” so they can review the contents of digital storage media and computer hard drives in a forensically sound manner.
Innovation in Information Technology
Large Agency Division (two-way tie): Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Investigator’s Toolbox. The RCMP has developed an innovative e-learning and e-working program for all investigators across Canada. The purpose of this online tool is to help every police officer improve on the skills required to conduct an investigation effectively and successfully from start to finish. This online operational support and learning program has been structured to provide the policing community with quick job aids and learning objects that have been broken down into 16 criminal investigational “hard skill” areas. Designed to look like an actual toolbox, this application opens up to expose trays full of necessary investigative skills topics. The toolbox also provides information and job aids related to more advanced investigations that may require additional specialized skills.
Nagpur, India, Rural District Police, Lok-Samwad: Democratic Dialogue with the People. Lok-Samwad (democratic dialogue with the common people) is an innovative project aimed at harnessing information technology to decentralize police administration to bring police closer to the people by establishing a “visitorless and paperless office.” Regular videoconferencing and scanned-document sessions between the superintendent of police and people situated in remote villages of the district allow a redress of the target population’s grievance almost instantaneously.
Medium Agency Division: Juneau, Alaska, Police Department, Digital Evidence Locker. The Juneau Police Department has implemented a “Digital Evidence Locker” program that provides secure access to audio, video, photographs, and documents for staff and its partners in the justice system while maintaining the integrity of the evidence. Interoperability with the department’s records management system (RMS) and digital in-car video data allows seamless case management of this evidence for officers and partners of the department.
Regional/Multijurisdictional Agency Division: Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), Ohio Local Law Enforcement Information Sharing Network (OLLEISN): A Justice Information Sharing Success Story of Value and Sustainability. The OACP, with funding and support from the Ohio Department of Public Safety, has designed and implemented an operational, statewide electronic justice information sharing system. The OLLEISN was accomplished in partnership with federal organizational technical guidance from the IJIS Institute and the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Affairs, as well as from crucial state partners including the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association. Over 725 of the state’s 900 local law enforcement agencies share RMS data through OLLEISN. This wealthof RMS information is accessible and searchable by Ohio’s street officers, deputies, troopers, and investigators.
Since becoming operational, OLLEISN’s impact on local law enforcement agencies has been substantial, becoming one of the state’s most commonly used tools. OLLEISN has provided Ohio law enforcement agencies with at least three significant benefits:
- Increasing the apprehension rate of criminals as a result of more easily identifying suspects arrested on minor charges who are found to have been involved in more serious crimes and have a record of convictions. Previously, these suspects would have been released.
- Improving officer safety as a result of providing more information about a suspect or situation to the officer, deputy, or trooper at the scene.
- Providing a wealth of information to assist investigators and to confirm or disprove officers’ hunches.■