Communication links

Boston Police and Orange County, Calif., Form COPLINK Network

The Boston Police Department (BPD) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Integrated Law and Justice Agency for Orange County (ILJAOC), a Joint Powers Authority comprised of all member agencies of the Criminal Justice System in Orange County, Calif., to share law enforcement information and criminal data between the two jurisdictions.

BPD and ILJAOC use i2's COPLINK, the most widely deployed tactical lead generation tool in the United States.

Established in 2004 with a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, the ILJAOC developed and implemented a regional, justice information sharing system that allows all Orange County law enforcement agencies to share the information in their records, jail and court management systems, which also includes current and served warrants, all citation data generated in the county, as well as terms and conditions of probation information for those being supervised by the court.

BPD now has access to data from more than 20 million searchable documents from 25 Orange County agencies and vice versa. The ILJAOC also has information sharing agreements with Oregon; San Diego; the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department; the Los Angeles Police Department; Mesa and Tucson, Ariz.; Spokane, Wash.; and Sacramento, Calif., — all with COPLINK nodes. In total, the ILJAOC system is capable of accessing almost a quarter of a billion records — a number that grows daily through the current sharing agreements in place and others in the works.

"The nature of law enforcement today calls for a cross-jurisdictional approach that speeds up investigations. Criminals don't know geographic or political boundaries," said Bob McDonell, ILJAOC executive director and former chief of police of the Newport Beach, Calif., Police Department. "There is so much criminal data at the local level that can be an invaluable tool in solving crimes. The ILJAOC's mission is to share this resource with as many jurisdictions as possible."

COPLINK enhances information sharing within and between the local and regional law enforcement agencies that contribute to and access ILJAOC databases, in accordance with each agency's sharing priorities, policies and applicable laws. The system allows investigators to feed the limited information they have about a crime and search across multiple jurisdictions to learn about similar elements that can potentially generate leads and crack a tough case quickly. The capability also exists to share with federal agencies, once information sharing agreements can be reached.

In one case, a suspect was involved in a La Palma, Calif., bar fight and stabbed a patron in the neck. A description of the perpetrator indicated his name was thought to be "Wesley." COPLINK identified a possible suspect named "Wes," age 52, who lived near the bar. The suspect had never been in contact with the La Palma Police Department. However, COPLINK showed that he had police contacts in Buena Park, Anaheim and Fullerton, Calif. The suspect was then positively identified by witnesses and subsequently arrested. Without COPLINK, the La Palma Police Department would not have had access to the information from the neighboring jurisdictions.

"As part of a typical investigation, one of our officers may enter information into COPLINK and learn that a person of interest or suspect recently was given a speeding ticket in Irvine, Calif., which could lead to additional information that accelerates solving a crime," said William Casey, deputy superintendant for BPD. "In the past, we would have to go through the time-consuming task of contacting someone from Irvine. We hope to see other jurisdictions across the country join this initiative."

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