Bomb info goes online

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has launched a Web-based system for law enforcement agencies to share information about bomb and arson cases.

The Arson and Explosives National Repository developed the Bomb and Arson Tracking System (BATS) for agencies to manage and exchange information.

"BATS will, for the first time, provide state, local and federal law enforcement agencies that have fire, arson, post-blast and explosives ordnance disposal responsibilities the ability to receive real-time information concerning violent crimes under their jurisdiction," said Kathleen Kiernan, ATF's assistant director for strategic intelligence and information. "It will allow investigators to go from being reactive to proactive."

The system includes several security management features. Only law enforcement officials with the authority to access the National Crime Information Center will be able to access the database.

Participants receive a user ID and password from ATF, and can enter information on the type of incident, target and location. Agents can also provide data about the explosive device, casualties and collateral damage from the incident. BATS also uses geographic information system technology to map locations.

Each participating agency will manage and control its information in BATS and decide how it should be shared, ATF officials said.

ATF has worked since 2001 with PEC Solutions Inc. and state and local law enforcement agencies to develop BATS. The system cost about $500,000.

The bureau is conducting pilot projects for BATS with the state fire marshal's office of Maine, the Glendale, Ariz., police and fire departments, the Winchester, Va. police department, the Southlake, Texas, public safety department and the fire investigations unit of the Tulsa, Okla., fire department.

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