Seattle area police set up sharing

Thirty-nine law enforcement agencies in the Seattle metropolitan region

are developing a Web-based system to share crime information.

"Right now I could have a neighboring city...that's got a series of

crimes where someone's trying to lure a child near a school into a car,"

said Keith Haines, chief of the Tukwila Police Department. "And we could

start having similar crimes here and not know much at all about what's going

on there. And they may have had a witness that saw the color of a car or

a description of a suspect or a partial license plate number or something

that could really help an investigator in another jurisdiction."

Right now, officers have to call other jurisdictions to glean information.

The proposed system would enable those with security clearance to search

for a name, license plate number, description of a suspect or particular

words or phrases in police reports. The Tukwila and Bellevue police departments

and King County Sheriff's Office plan to participate in a 90-day pilot project

beginning Sept. 1. Haines said that adding the other 36 agencies — including

the Seattle Police Department — would depend on how the pilot progresses.

He said they still have to plan that out and see what associated costs there

may be.

Microsoft Corp. is helping develop the system at no cost to the participating

pilot agencies.

Jeff Langford, a dot-net technology specialist with the Microsoft's

public safety group, said the police-only, Web-based system would run on

a dot-net framework and link all the records management repositories of

about 20 different systems to create a searchable portal. Eventually, the

secure system, which will export data in an Extensible Markup Language format,

will contain rich media, including mug shots, photos and other records.

However, each agency maintains control over its own data, he said.

It's not the region's first attempt at sharing. Agencies also use WIRE,

or Web-Based Information for Regional Enforcement, in which crime bulletins

are posted for officers and detectives to read every day.

"Agencies are submitting that information for the most serious crimes

as a way for us all to stay fairly informed of what's going on around us,"

Haines said. "But it's still doesn't give us that step that this new system


Although local agencies have access to the federal National Crime Information

Center and other federal databases for felony warrants, stolen vehicles

and other items, Haines said the majority of information is housed in individual

records management systems.

Because agencies are usually reluctant to share data, moving toward

an information-sharing attitude is evolving, he said.

"We didn't have any particular incident at all that sparked this," he

said. "Just a growing acknowledgement by law enforcement leaders that we

would be much more effective if we find an automated way to share our records



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