For quite some time it has been a catch phrase at justice conferences across the nation and throughout the world: integrated justice. It means different things to different people, but in the end it is really about sharing more accurate information, providing access to it more quickly and reducing the staffing required to shuffle the millions of sheets of paper produced in the name of justice each day.
For law enforcement agencies, quick access to accurate data is the most important issue, but reducing staffing needs in the records department can be a boon as well. Ten years ago, the predominant obstacle to true integration was the technology, but today, most experts agree that the barriers to integration are largely human. Traditional intergovernmental rivalries, lack of trust among agencies and the natural desire to believe one agency has unique needs compared to a similar agency a hundred miles away, have all contributed to a less-than-integrated justice system.
The goal of coordinating all the data already available and continues to flow down the justice pipeline is increasingly uniting disparate agencies. Successful commercial and public integration efforts are becoming common, and on the backs of these successes, other agencies are learning how to build regional and statewide systems. From San Diego to the heartland, justice professionals are learning from each other and growing the future of justice.
"Criminals are becoming more and more mobile. Gangs have chapters in every state and run like loosely managed, multinational corporations. Serial killers cross state lines and bank robbers work from town to town," explained Sgt. Steve Natale of the Los Angeles Police Department. "These changes are finally pushing law enforcement to become more integrated. Within five years