Florida to upgrade crime systems

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which collects and maintains statewide criminal records, plans to modernize and integrate its two major information systems.

The project would unite the state's Computerized Criminal History System (CCHS), which maintains master records of an individual's arrest, case history, and/or incarceration, with its Automated Fingerprint Identification System, said Mark Scharein, agency operations manager. The work is estimated to cost $17 million during the next two years.

Although CCHS, launched in the early 1970s, is linked to the fingerprint system, which went up in the late 1980s, both systems are proprietary, outdated and unable to support high-volume processing.

Scharein said the new Integrated Criminal History System, as it is being called, would support additional features, such as mug shot images, and would allow immediate fingerprint-based searches. It also would reduce the processing time for creating and updating records.

In late April, the agency (www.fdle.state.fl.us) awarded Science Applications International Corp. a $1.2 million contract for an initial systems analysis. During this eight-month phase, local law enforcement agencies, court clerks, and corrections facilities will participate in how to enhance the new system.

"We want to make sure that we spend all this effort and money and capture what the end users in this state really want," Scharein said.

The initial analysis, he said, would determine the new system's design and specifications and whether contributing agencies would have to invest in additional technology. Scharein said it may cost the state $17 million, but that's a rough estimate.

"We want to know that up front [and] we don't want to implement a system that agencies can't afford," he said.

A contract for the design and implementation phase will be awarded early next year, and the new system is slated to be completed by summer 2003.

In addition to collecting and maintaining criminal records, the 2,000-person FDLE conducts investigations, operates forensic labs and certifies law enforcement and corrections officers for the entire state.

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