from the public -- [and] so it can be processed and analyzed rather than merely stored. Computers have been used by police for problem solving, for developing systematic analysis of problems. They are being used for evaluation and case management as a very important part of community policing. One of the things that happens with police departments is that when you get away from recording an officer's success in terms of how many arrests he or she has made, or how many citations they might have issued, you get to the point where their success is measured by how well they serve the community. You need more sophisticated devices for evaluating those factors and that is where computers can be very important.

Computers are also very important in the investigation of crime. In an area of Los Angeles, police homicide detectives in one jurisdiction are now, through the use of computers, solving 105 percent of all the murders taking place in that locale. They are solving virtually every murder that takes place now and they are going back and taking cold cases and, by using computerized techniques -- a systematic analysis of information that is there, but that manually has never been put together adequately -- they are going back and solving homicides that took place five, six and in some cases eight years ago. And as a result they are able to counteract the deteriorating clearance rate of homicides in the country.

In New York City, they have been able to reduce crime by 36 percent over a three-year period. And computers and technology have been a very important part of that. They utilized computerized pin-mapping. They utilized computer-generated crime statistics and intelligence data. They utilized computerized live-scanning fingerprint data as well as digital photo-imaging and video teleprogramming. They increased their ability to process a large amount of information and turn that into something useful that the officers could use. And all this went a long way, along with some other management techniques and the community co-operation that this engendered, to reduce the crime rather dramatically over a short period of time.

GT: You have also advocated using technology to speed up and make the court system more effective.

Meese: The whole court process is very slow. Technology can cut down on costs and speed up the process without lessening any of the safeguards for the accused or any of the participants. And technology can increase accuracy.

Teleconferencing could be tremendously helpful in terms of saving both cost and inconvenience, as well as doing a better job of prompt judicial attention to people in custody.

Criminal history files, the rap sheets as we know them, is an area which certainly could use improvement both in terms of timeliness and accuracy. Computers provide the way to do that.

In courts, multimedia technology is available which can transform trials from being conducted the same way that they were in 1600 into a modern trial that can be made much more intelligible, much more rapid and, at the same time, preserving all the safeguards and all the rules of evidence and all the other things necessary in order to provide a fair trial.

Computer graphics, for example, audio and visual multimedia elements of a multimedia system, computer animation and interactive components can all be utilized to make information, no matter how complex, significantly easier for a jury to understand.

For example, I saw a recreation of the Kennedy shooting in Dallas where they took all the facts available and then animated ... it. Under our laws of evidence, an expert witness can be very expansive in how they explain things to the jury. And there is no reason they couldn't use re-creations and animations.

Just think, for example, if the information on DNA that was laboriously

Blake Harris  |  Editor