Regional Links Could Multiply CopLink's Crime-Fighting Power

The Phoenix police know that criminals rarely respect political boundaries.

A string of crimes that begins in one jurisdiction often crosses into

another and back again. That zigzag pattern complicates work for police

in either jurisdiction who are trying to piece together enough information

to develop solid leads.

Neighboring departments share information, but not in a systematic way.

"Unfortunately, the information we have to work with in Phoenix stops

at our borders," said Joe Hindman, computer services administrator for

the Phoenix Police Department. "Surrounding cities have their own case management

systems."

In one case, a group dubbed the "Blue Bandits" was robbing supermarkets

across the region.

"The amount of data sharing that went on had to be in an informal network,

detectives talking to detectives," Hindman said. "Had we had that information

together, that is the kind of case we could have solved much more quickly."

The Phoenix police say CopLink may be the answer. Smaller towns in the

Phoenix region may not be able to make a case for installing their own CopLink

system, but they can add their data to their Phoenix system, creating a

regional node.

In such a situation, CopLink is the incentive and the means for information

sharing. Departments that see a demonstration of CopLink usually come away

interested in participating. So the Phoenix police see the potential to

use the system "as a carrot to get departments here in the valley to share

their case data with us," Hindman said.

Still, the concept of regional CopLink nodes has it practical limits.

Crime trails may stretch across jurisdictions, but in most cases crime,

like politics, is local.

"The further you get away from a crime scene, the less likely you will

have information that is valuable to you," Hindman said.

So although it would be possible to set up a CopLink system at the state

level, it is not really practical, he said.

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