Integrating Technology into Law Enforcement is "Elementary My Dear Watson!"

Integrating Technology into Law Enforcement is "Elementary My Dear Watson!"

by / July 31, 1999
"Beautiful! beautiful! The old guaiacum test was very clumsy and uncertain. So is the microscopic examination for blood corpuscles. The latter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old. Now, this appears to act as well whether the blood is old or new. Had this test been invented, there are hundreds of men now walking the earth who would long ago have paid the penalty of their crimes."

"Indeed!" I murmured.

"Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point. A man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been committed. His linen or clothes are examined and brownish stains discovered upon them. Are they blood stains, or mud stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what are they? That is a question which has puzzled many an expert, and why? Because there was no reliable test. Now we have the Sherlock Holmes's test, and there will no longer be any difficulty."

-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

While Doyle's Holmes is universally acknowledged as a master of the powers of observation and deduction, it is often forgotten that he was a also an early proponent -- albeit a literary one -- of the application of technology to law enforcement. Modern law enforcement agencies are following in Holmes' footsteps as they attempt to integrate exciting new technologies into the world of law enforcement. Technology enhances intelligence, analysis, communications and administration operations.

Technology companies, research labs, etc., have paid attention to these realities and the result has been that defense technologies are being converted for law enforcement uses to fight crime. A number of such products are presented here.

If You Got No Intelligence, You Ain't Very Smart

Even Holmes' vaunted powers of deduction would be useless without accurate and abundant intelligence. Holmes utilized his Baker Street Irregulars to scour the streets of London for clues. Modern technology has provided law enforcement with new tools to gather information.

Vehicles and Cargo Inspection

CargoSearch allows rapid inspection and detection of contraband and drugs hidden in large vehicles. It is a nondestructive X-ray detection system that inspects trucks, cars, railroad cars and sea containers. American Science and Engineering's patented Z Backscatter technology combined with transmission X-rays provides outstanding detection of illegal drugs and other contraband hidden in false walls, in the structure of the vehicles, or in the cargo itself.

The system provides inspection officials the ability to verify cargo manifests, making CargoSearch invaluable in situations where the smuggled items are not illegal or dangerous per se, but do have significant financial or social value.

CargoSearch is presently operating at the ports of entry in Otay Mesa and Calexico, Calif., and Pharr and Ysletta, Texas.

Additional information is available by contacting American Science and Engineering at 978/262-8700.

Covert Vehicle Tracking

Pro Trak-GPS is a vehicle-tracking system that uses the Global Positioning System (GPS). The longitude, latitude, Unit ID and other GPS information are transmitted via an AMPS cellular modem to a host computer or control center for display on a regional map.

The Pro Trak-GPS consists of a GPS receiver and cellular modem fastened to the target vehicle with wire ties or bolts. A GPS "puck" antenna attaches with a magnet to the underside of the bumper cover and a miniature magnet-mount cellular antenna fastens to the frame.

Power is supplied by a direct connection to the vehicle's power or by a field-replaceable battery pack that powers the system for approximately five days.

The system can be accessed at the user's office via the Pro Trak-GPS host software package. The location of the target is displayed on a digital map of your area.

It features GPS vehicle tracking over the cellular-telephone network, automatic or manual activation and dial-out to anywhere, dial-in mode for vehicle tracking and control, fully integrated single-vendor software/hardware system, automatic display of vehicles on an easy-to-read map. It requires just a PC and base-station modem.

Additional information is available by contacting Golden West Investigative Group Ltd. at 604/318-8545.

EVD-3000 Hand-Held Explosives Detector

The EVD-3000 is a hand-held portable explosives trace detector with comprehensive explosives-detection capabilities. It can be deployed in 60 seconds, and provide a response 10 seconds later. The EVD-3000 is capable of detecting plastic and high-vapor pressure explosives including taggants.

Additional information is available by contacting U.S. Testing Equipment Ltd. at 360/735-7685.


LifeGuard, a portable rescuing device, helps rescuers find survivors by detecting ultra-low-frequency electric and magnetic signals naturally generated by the heart. LifeGuard has a range of up to 600 meters in the open. The LifeGuard Model 3.0 incorporates triangulation capability, GPS connectivity, an electronic compass and a digital display panel. It uses a 6-volt rechargeable battery pack.

The LifeGuard is currently being evaluated by officials in Zeebrugge, Belgium, where it is used to detect refugees attempting to illegally immegrate to Britain in cargo trucks. During testing, the LifeGuard not only found all of the pretend "refugees" it was supposed to find, it found five real illegals as well.

The LifeGuard Model 3.0 weighs 2.25 pounds. It can detect life through concrete, metal, earth and wood. At short range, it has detected people through a 10-meter-wide earthen barrier.

It weighs 1.75 pounds and requires four AA batteries. DKL's LifeGuard comes in three models that range in price from $5,999 to $13,995.

Additional information is available by contacting DKL at 202/861-8870.

Metal Detector

The Classic is a compact and lightweight portable metal-detector gate suitable for any surroundings.

It features digitally adjustable sensitivity with a wide range of values, and programming access is protected by hardware key. The Classic can automatically synchronize between two or more metal detectors at a distance of up to two inches without using cables. An electronic control unit is integrated into the archway.

Additional information is available by contacting CEIA USA.

Physical Search

The Metal-Tec 1400 is a compact hand-held metal detector with silent-vibration alert. The Metal-Tec 1400 can detect metal objects such as weapons, razor blades, handcuff keys, knives, etc. Because the Metal-Tec 1400 has the silent-vibration-alert feature, the person operating it can detect metal objects hidden on a subject without alerting the subject. Its triaxial detection field uniformly detects in all directions.

The Metal-Tec 1400 is constructed of high-impact ABS plastic and is resistant to all weather conditions including rain and snow. It's water-resistant and measures 7.9 inches long. It comes with a belt holster, allowing it to be carried at all times. The unit weighs 8.8 ounces and operates on a standard 9-volt alkaline battery. The device is well-suited for police departments, task forces, schools, corrections, etc.

Additional information is available by contacting Torfino Enterprises, Inc. at 800/867-3466.

Analyze This!

Sifting through the raw data that every case can produce can be mind-numbing work. But modern technology allows for the efficient manipulation of data that will let you see the hidden patterns and say, "Elementary, my dear Watson!" faster than you ever could before.

Information Analysis

Massive collections of data can overload a computer system or hide important information from decision-makers. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has developed a 3-D visualization application, called Starlight, to help users examine large collections of data, reveal elusive relationships among data and discover critical details.

The software has two functional components: An information preprocessing and modeling system, which characterizes information content and modeling associations among input data elements and stores the modeled information for later retrieval and analysis, and a visualization system/user interface which is used during the exploratory analysis of the information model.

The system operates on Windows NT and requires a high-resolution graphics card and monitor. The software is already in use by the U.S. intelligence community and is well-suited for other applications, such as medical-data analysis, environmental security and current-event monitoring.

Additional information is available by contacting Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Communications or Greg Koller at 509/372-4864.

MapInfo Crime Analysis

Police departments and law enforcement agencies must continually collect and catalog vast amounts of crime data used to spot crime trends, plan action, locate surveillance points for monitoring crime activity and investigate criminal cases. These activities require sophisticated analysis using a system that allows users to query organizational data and display query results.

Using a custom MapInfo application, law enforcement can perform such analyses and display the results in a map. Criminals and crime patterns are not subject to the man-made boundaries that police agencies are, so investigators must try to pinpoint patterns both in and around the jurisdictions they represent. The map depicts landmarks such as schools, churches and hospitals in a city, which agencies can use to discern trends and track suspects committing crimes in neighborhoods throughout the area.

The map created from the query can show the sites of crimes that fit an officer's specific criteria. For instance, the map could display all aggravated assaults perpetrated on elderly women between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. in June by a 30- to 35-year-old male. Such detailed pinpointing of crimes and suspects allows further investigative analysis of the data to identify the most likely suspect for the crimes in question.

Additional information is available by contacting MapInfo.

Communications: Cooler Than A Dick Tracy Radio Watch

Holmes had the advantages and the disadvantages of often working alone. But a modern police agency lives and dies by its ability to gather accurate intelligence and disseminate it effectively among a large group of people. This is an area in which technology excels.

Digital Dispatch

The city of Los Angeles is upgrading its Emergency Command Control and Communications System (ECCCS). As the systems integrator for this project, TRW will design, develop, and integrate a high-availability Dual Center Systems Architecture which will provide additional fault tolerance and enhance the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) ability to provide emergency- dispatch service during natural or man-made disasters.

The company will also design system enhancements including new dispatch-center consoles, improved 911 and nonemergency telephone service, enhancements to the LAPD's computer-aided dispatch systems and new interfaces to the department's voice and data radio systems. The ECCCS project in Los Angeles includes the upgrade, enhancement and selective replacement of portions of the existing system to meet future needs through the year 2015.

Additional information is available by contacting TRW Systems & Information Technology Group at 703/803-4900.

Speaker Identification

The Contain Voice Verification Monitoring System is a caseload-management tool that assists officers in the location verification of parolees, probationers and pretrial suspects. It integrates the SpeakEZ Voice Print Speaker Verification technology -- an effective method of confirming a caller's identity -- with interactive voice-response technology and the Internet to provide a superior monitoring alternative.

Officers can immediately access their caseload via the Internet, anytime and anywhere, then authenticate the identification and verify the location of an offender while reporting the results of the monitoring activity to the supervising agency. The system also manages the monitoring of an offender by automatically calling the offender at up to 21 different locations and allows for the instantaneous generation of detailed subject reports.

Additional information is available by contacting Cell-Tel Monitoring Inc. at 813/225-1750.

Administration: Who's In Charge, Sarge?

Administration is tough. Although politicians often see the benefits of putting additional officers on the street, it can be hard getting funding to support those officers. Technology can help stretch your budget.

Video Management

T-NETIX's Video Imaging/Booking Management System (VIIMS) is a turnkey image-capture and identification system for correctional-institution and law enforcement use. VIIMS can capture and integrate various forms of data such as voice prints (for use with PIN-LOCK), photos, fingerprints and documents.

The inmate's photo and vital information can be found on the main screen. Files show data on booking history, health, grievances, court appearances, visitation files and a host of other information needed by corrections officials. VIIMS complies with open industry standards and easily integrates into regional systems. System photos can be transmitted to and from other locations. The system also accommodates fingerprinting using live-scan technology.

VIIMS is compatible with all Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 95/98 and Windows NT. Photographs, fingerprints and documents can be displayed on a single computer screen in image frames integrated with text information.

Additional information is available by contacting T-NETIX at 303/790-9111.

Viva Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is modernizing the department's positive-identification and information management systems.

The project, known as Las Vegas Metro Automated Identification Network (MAIN), will combine both fingerprint and mug-shot identification systems to provide fully integrated capabilities to identify criminals and screen employment applicants and other mandated registrants.

The MAIN system will serve officers in a wide range of traditional law enforcement functions, including arrest and booking, confinement and release, investigations and forensics, and coroner's inquiries. In addition, the new capabilities will help satisfy unique requirements under Nevada law for positive identification of gaming-industry work applicants, which adds significant volume to normal law enforcement needs for identification.

Additional information is available by contacting R. Brandon Belote at Litton at 703/413-1521.

Face Recognition

All people have unique facial signatures determined by their underlying vascular structure. The TrueFace verifier and identifier from Miros Inc. can compare a live face image with a previously recorded image and determine if they come from the same person. The system -- which can be used in lieu of passkeys, PIN numbers and other security measures -- accommodates normal variations in facial features.

Additional information is available by contacting Miros Inc. at 781/ 235-0330.

More Than Dispatching

Intergraph Public Safety's Computer Aided Dispatch System fully integrates interactive, intelligent mapping with dispatching, records management and communications capabilities. The system includes a high-performance graphics workstations and software designed specifically to support command and control operations. Records management is enhanced by the use of a database that includes geographic basemap information as well as address, incident history and traffic-pattern data.

Available on Microsoft Windows NT operating system, the CAD system runs on powerful Intel-based personal computers and high-performance InterServe symmetrical multiprocessors for high-volume transaction processing.

Additional information is available by contacting Intergraph.