Illinois is merging its criminal database into the Chicago Police Department’s increasingly sophisticated computer system. The Chicago Tribune says law enforcement officials believe the change will make crime-fighting faster and more efficient across jurisdictions.
The merger will enable crime patterns to be spotted more easily and suspicious activity in locations across the state to be analyzed to detect possible criminal or terrorist intent, officials said. They said the system is the nation’s first such statewide database. State Police Director Larry Trent said the system would “revolutionize law enforcement in the state of Illinois,” putting into one place data collected from many locations.
Under the system, a state trooper investigating the robbery of a store outside Springfield could note in a computer that a white, four-door vehicle was seen leaving the scene. Checking on other active cases, the system could list similar robberies elsewhere and detect a pattern. “What we would be looking at here is someone driving up and down Interstate 55 holding up small stores,” said Chicago Police Assistant Deputy Supt. Ron Huberman. “You could send an emergency message to jurisdictions along I-55 saying, `Be on the lookout for this kind of vehicle.’ “If we were to do this today, it would take literally thousands of phone calls to find out if a pattern existed throughout the state.”
In another hypothetical example, an officer in who stops a suspicious car near a power plant could conduct a search to determine that the same person was stopped while taking pictures near another plant. The officer’s computer screen would warn, “Threat to power grid.”
The crime-fighting significance of the revamped system has been compared to the development of the police radio and fingerprint analysis. Parts of the system will be available statewide by the end of the year in what will be a three-year project to integrate the state’s Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS) and Chicago’s more modern and far-reaching Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting System (CLEAR).
Today, 195 agencies–most of them suburban police departments–have access to Chicago’s system. Under the new plan, all of Illinois’ 1,200 local law-enforcement departments will have access.