Seattle area police set up sharing
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Jul 03, 2002
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
Microsoft Corp. is helping develop the system at no cost to the participating
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