By Robert Brinson, Chief Information Officer, North Carolina Department of Corrections; Terry O’Connell, Director, Law Enforcement Data System, Oregon State Police; and George Ake, Information LED Policing Coordinator, Border Research and Technology Center, Sheriff’s Association of Texas
|ARJIS||Automated Regional Justice Information System|
|Nlets||The International Justice & Public Safety Network|
|NCIEN||Nationwide Corrections Image and Information Exchange over Nlets|
|SID||State Identification Number|
|SRFERS||State, Regional, and Federal Enterprise Retrieval System|
n past years, law enforcement officers and probation officers have been unable to share real-time information. This leads to critical data, such as images, past violations, and probation statuses, never reaching the people who need it. Without access to these types of data, law enforcement officers risk missing opportunities to apprehend offenders who are involved in the criminal justice system.
For example, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 2008, two individuals on probation were stopped several times and released by law enforcement. These officers had no way to query a database to get probation information or statuses. Several days later, these individuals murdered Eve Carson, student body president at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This case highlights the need for an exchange of information between law enforcement and corrections agencies.
Nlets and ARJIS
The International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets) received funding from the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, and the National Institute of Justice to demonstrate the viability of exchanging corrections information and photos. The project is called the Nationwide Corrections Image and Information Exchange over Nlets (NCIEN).
The Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS), in San Diego, California, also received funding for the project. ARJIS is a regional member of Nlets and manages the State, Regional, and Federal Enterprise Retrieval System (SRFERS). One purpose of the SRFERS project is to expand the regional sharing of photos over the Nlets network.
The Corrections Project
Nlets and SRFERS implemented a pilot for sharing corrections images and inmate information over the Nlets network. North Carolina and Oregon agreed to pilot the corrections project. State agencies, including the North Carolina Department of Corrections, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Oregon State Police, and the Oregon Department of Corrections, collaborated to develop the types of information to be shared and the technical requirements to make the sharing of information possible. The project received input from the practitioner community about the needs of officers on the street and probation officers.
To date, the project team has completed several critical steps, including the development of a privacy study, technical specification, and policy documents. The policy is governed by Nlets, and all interstate transactions use the Nlets network. Both states have developed methods to notify probation officers that the individual was stopped by law enforcement. Montana recently joined the project, making its corrections images and information available.
How It Works
North Carolina, Montana, and Oregon are now in production and are sharing corrections information. Officers can query these databases in the following ways:
- Name, date of birth, and one or more of the following: sex, race, eye color
- FBI number
- State identification number
- Driver’s license number
- Social security number
- Department of Corrections number
Figure 1 is an example of information that would be returned to an officer after a query.
In Oregon, when the corrections offender record is returned to an inquiring agency, the law enforcement data system automatically sends a message to the supervising corrections agency to notify its members of the inquiry. If enforcement action is taken against the offender, the supervising agency is notified using the corrections client contact format. Corrections officials are not immediately called unless there is a question about detaining the subject or a similar issue.
North Carolina uses the transaction to let law enforcement officers checking driver’s licenses or warrants know when the subject has a history with corrections. Probation officers manage their caseload with a computerized dashboard showing all their offenders. Currently, the dashboard displays daily statewide court events, matches the offenders, and provides alerts to new activities. Soon, the return path from the traffic stop also will be available on the probation dashboard. As a result, law enforcement officers are safer and provide probation officers with another data point—traffic stops—on their offenders.
As a result of this project, officers will be able to receive images and information about offenders in real time. The capability to share corrections images within and outside of jurisdictions will lead to immediate identification and will give officers on the street access to probation statuses. Officers will have critical information, including warnings about individuals. Probation officers will be notified immediately about law enforcement contacts.
During the course of a year, Oregon sends almost 50,000 offender contact notifications to parole and probation personnel for their information. Without this system, contact with law enforcement would most likely go unreported and law enforcement would not have critical information to do their jobs.
In North Carolina, 8.6 million law enforcement queries have been run since June 2009 with the following results:
- 82.48 percent: corrections does not know the person
- 17.08 percent: corrections matches to a single offender
- 0.17 percent: corrections matches multiple offenders
- 0.28 percent: corrections matches an absconder (24,000 absconders have been identified since the program’s inception)
Oregon’s and North Carolina’s automatic contact notifications systems act as virtual extensions of the probation officer’s supervision. The systems provide continuous monitoring of offender activities. This real-time communication between probation officers and law enforcement is critical to enhancing public safety. This project will certainly make communities safer.
For more information on the project, please contact Bonnie Locke, Nlets director of program management, at firstname.lastname@example.org; or George Ake, information policing coordinator, Board of Research and Technology Center, National Institute of Justice, at email@example.com. ■
Please cite as:
Robert Brinson, Terry O’Connell, and George Ake, "Nationwide Corrections Image and Information Exchange over Nlets: A Partnership between Law Enforcement and Corrections," Technology Talk, The Police Chief 77 (October 2010): 150–151, http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CPIM1010/#/151 (insert access date).