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March 2013

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.

Los Angeles County, California, Uses SAS for Fraud-Fighting Analytics

The Los Angeles County, California, Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) is using SAS to help fight organized fraud rings and individual perpetrators that prey on benefits meant for the community’s most vulnerable. Using fraud-fighting analytics and data mining tools from SAS, the DPSS uncovered more than 200 probable fraud cases and busted ongoing conspiracies to defraud the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids child care benefits program.

The county provides financial and employment assistance to qualified families with minor children. The SAS Fraud Framework for Government helps ensure that only those who truly need those benefits receive them.

“Fraudulent activity reduces funds available to those truly in need and hurts public confidence in a vital program,” said Michael J. Sylvester II, DPSS assistant director and department chief information officer. “Reducing fraud and catching those responsible builds public confidence; the data mining solution (DMS) that Los Angeles County and SAS developed together is critical to that effort.”

Alerts generated by the DMS have delivered more than 200 fraud referrals that could have otherwise gone unnoticed for an extended length of time by relying strictly on traditional fraud detection processes. Additionally, using SAS Social Network Analysis, DPSS Welfare Fraud Prevention and Investigations uncovered two conspiracy rings comprising 16 cases much earlier than it would have, significantly reducing the duration of fraudulent activities. Social network analysis provides investigators instant access to a network of child care recipients and providers, saving hours of casework preparation.

“With a single mouse click, SAS provided leads to additional evidence that could have taken weeks or months to uncover, including linking my suspect with two in other cases,” said one investigator.

Another investigator, who was wrapping up a 10-person investigation, entered the main suspect’s name and discovered seven potential coconspirators.

For information, visit

Spillman Touch Saves Time with the Calumet City, Illinois, Police Department and Others

The Spillman Touch module is supporting public safety personnel by providing access to powerful data in situations where desktop or laptop computers are not accessible. Spillman Touch enables personnel to access information from their agencies’ Spillman database using an iPad, an iPhone, a Blackberry, or an Android smartphone. Field personnel can use Spillman Touch to complete a wide range of tasks, including searching for real-time data on names, vehicles, properties, and incidents; reviewing dispatch assignments; and accessing calls and critical information.

“It works great for us,” said Commander Billy Siems of the Calumet City, Illinois, Police Department. “When a call comes in, the staff can use Touch to check the incident to keep ourselves informed of what is going on. For example, in a battery case where someone is badly beaten up, we can look directly at the case number on Touch to answer everything we need answered.”

Detective Mike Burke of Toms River, New Jersey, Police Department in New Jersey said that at his agency, eight staff officers and fifteen detectives all use Spillman Touch to access real-time information about incidents.

“It makes their job a lot easier to get an email or text about something and then be able to log in to Touch to see all of the information on that call,” he said.

In addition to assisting in critical communications, Spillman Touch also helps agencies prepare for investigations and interviews. Burke said that officers at the Toms River Police Department will often use Spillman Touch to search from the field for information on potentially dangerous subjects.

“Searching for information on names is a huge thing to be able to do out in the field,” Burke said. “It brings across a photo of the individual and any information on what he or she has been involved in before.”

For information, visit

TIPS Centralized Risk Management and Incident Reporting Tool Enhances Campus Safety for Rappahannock Community College

Rappahannock Community College in Warsaw, Virginia, has launched the online incident reporting platform called Threat Assessment, Incident Management, and Prevention Services (TIPS) from Awareity. TIPS equips students, faculty, staff, and others on campus to confidentially report concerning behaviors or potentially harmful incidents. TIPS allows individuals to anonymously report suspicious activities involving bullying, threats to harm, verbal abuse or harassment, physical assault, weapons, sexual harassment, suicide risks, stalking, hazing, alcohol or drug possession, theft and robbery, vandalism, fraud, academic cheating, and others.

“TIPS empowers anyone on campus and within the community to come forward and anonymously share information regarding concerning behaviors with us,” said school Vice President for Administration Kim McManus. “Now we can make sure this information is communicated to the appropriate personnel and investigated immediately for a proactive response.”

If someone has information about incidents that adversely affect campus climate or warrant concern for the safety of students, faculty, or staff, they can access TIPS from the school website, select the campus location, and anonymously report the information. Once an incident is reported in TIPS, the information is immediately routed to the college’s Threat Assessment Team so members can coordinate a response and ensure all actions taken are documented to meet state and federal requirements.

Using an existing Virginia state contract, TIPS also provides an awareness & accountability vault that allows all appropriate campus personnel to access guidance, policies, situational awareness, and best practices. ♦

For information, visit



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXX, no. 3, March 2013. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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