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September 2010

Where do the good ideas come from? In this column, we offer our readers the opportunity to learn about — and benefit from — some of the cutting-edge technologies being implemented by law enforcement colleagues around the world.

Click to view the digital edition.

Sokkia Robotic and GPS Total Stations Are Winning Bets for the Las Vegas, Nevada, Metro Police Department

Crash scenes often are problematic for investigators because of safety issues and long time blocks encountered while collecting evidence. However, these problems have diminished significantly with robotic and GPS total stations that allow the investigators to take highly accurate measurements from a distance via remote controls.

How well this application works is evident at the Las Vegas, Nevada, Metro Police Department (LVMPD), whose Fatal Crash Investigation Detail investigates between 200 and 300 fatal crashes out of the more than 30,000 traffic accidents the LVMPD investigates annually. To process this volume of crashes, the detail uses two Sokkia SRX series total stations with robotic technology. It also recently acquired three new Sokkia GRXI GNSS systems. The robotic and GPS total stations now join two Nikon total stations that have been used for years.

The Sokkia GPS system—the GRX1 GNSS—is used for applications involving real-time kinetic (RTK) base or rover, for a network RTK rover, or even as a static receiver.

Sokkia’s GRX1 GNSS includes the new SHC250 data collector for faster data collecting and calculations; a dual-frequency, 72-channel GPS receiver for best capture of satellite signal; and built-in Bluetooth connections and minimal cables, meaning faster setup.

“The two main benefits of using GPS total stations is ease of use and one-person operation,” said Detective Bill Redfairn, lead detective in LVMPD’s Fatal Crash Investigation Detail. “The devices will increase the efficiency with which detectives will be able to investigate crash scenes, and the accuracy is second to none.”

Equally pivotal, Redfairn added, is that his detail uses the total stations to map the crush that occurs in accident-damaged vehicles. And once a crash scene is mapped with the Sokkia RTK systems, he continued, “Now you have data that you can use in animation, scene reconstruction, and simulation.”

Crash scenes are now mapped faster than ever before. Previously, LVMPD’s Fatal Crash Investigation Detail would spend four to five hours mapping a fatal accident scene with its older total stations. Redfairn says that now, with the GPS systems, this process takes less than three hours.

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Sypherlink Builds Data Sharing Hub for Dallas County, Texas, Court Information–Sharing Program

Sypherlink Inc., a data-integration software and National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) conformance provider, recently announced work is under way to create the central data sharing hub to support the Dallas County Secure Data Exchange (DC-DEx), a program designed to improve court processing procedures throughout the county and serve as the foundation for law enforcement data sharing across the county’s 26 cities.

Sypherlink was awarded the project, along with contracting partner CIBER Inc., and is providing the NIEM-conformant data standardization via its NIEM Harmonizer Hub product. NIEM Harmonizer Hub will enable DC-DEx to share data and become interoperable with other leading information-sharing efforts.

Dallas County is among the first jurisdictions in the United States to put the FBI’s Law Enforcement Data Exchange (N-DEx) program standards to work to simultaneously support both regional information-sharing and submission to the FBI as part of the same project.

“Sypherlink is a critical component to helping us architect this important information sharing program,” said DC-DEx program manager Bill Brown. “With a unique focus on integrated justice sharing and deep expertise helping agencies and their vendors to quickly comply with NIEM, we are confident their expertise will enable our success.”

DC-DEx will not require individual agencies to replace or alter existing records or court management applications. Instead, it will enable them to feed their data to a NIEM-conformant layer that will standardize the data before feeding a central information hub.

According to Brown, one of the first objectives of the DC-DEx will be to improve court processing procedures by integrating critical law enforcement data, including incident, arrest, offense, and case-filing information from regional law enforcement agencies into a single data warehouse. “This will enable agencies to submit offender data electronically, thereby reducing time and effort required to submit booking and case information to the county,” he said.

For more information, visit

Minnesota Justice Information Services Deploys BIO-key Biometric Identification

BIO-Key International Inc. announces the statewide expansion of the state of Minnesota’s eCharging pilot. This solution utilizes BIO-key’s WEB-key fingerprint biometric software for officers to establish their identity when electronically signing criminal complaints.

The paperless eCharging system increases efficiency by allowing police officers and prosecutors to electronically transmit charging documents in real time with the courts. The electronic delivery eliminates duplicate data entry, forms, time, and travel for document delivery.

This system saves police officers hours of time previously spent on paperwork, which enables them to get back out in the community faster. What used to take days now takes only minutes. To establish their identity when electronically signing a complaint, law enforcement officers simply place a finger onto an inexpensive fingerprint reader that plugs into the officer’s computer. The BIO-key software quickly and accurately establishes the officers’ identities by comparing scanned images against their previously registered fingerprints.

“Feedback from the pilot users was very positive and the use of the system has been found to be very intuitive,” said Jill Oliveira, public information officer for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. “The biometric signing is fast, accurate, convenient, and easy to use.”

Chief Dana Waldron from the Virginia, Minnesota, Police Department added that he wouldn’t dream of going back to paper.

Major benefits of the system include time savings, workflow monitoring, auditing, and high acceptance among law enforcement officers and the courts. ■

For more information, visit



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVIII, no. 9, September 2010. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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