Costs Absorbed

Illinois State Police officials were an easy sell on the merger after witnessing the success in Chicago and all of Cook County, where 132 local law enforcement agencies share the same database, according to Huberman.

"We met up with the Illinois State Police, with whom we already had a good relationship, and we said, 'You guys maintain a huge data shop, and we have a huge data shop; there are so many efficiencies to be gained, and we could both improve our data quality significantly if we teamed up,'" he said.

Merging the systems will provide many benefits, and its considerable costs will be absorbed by new efficiencies, including the need for fewer personnel, said Huberman, who was instrumental in CLEAR's development.

"In essence, when we get down to one database, we'll need just a few database managers to maintain it as opposed to each of us having our own systems and needing our own database folks to manage it," he said.

Other efficiencies include saving on licensing for products, and especially in developing a case reporting system -- rather than the Illinois State Police developing a case reporting system and CPD developing its own, and each spending development dollars, there will be one, Huberman said.

"We're going to develop one [case reporting] system for everyone in the state," he said. "By doing that, it's tens of millions of dollars of savings by pooling our resources."

Challenges Ahead

For full implementation of I-CLEAR, enough wireless bandwidth for patrol car computers to access mug shots, and eventually video, is still needed. The CDP is also replacing its entire network backbone with fiber, because the backbone was previously constrained to less than T1 speeds.

There are also challenges in completing the original CLEAR project. Funding to complete the entire project is more of a concern now since discounted consulting hours with Oracle have run out. The state pledged its help, and the Illinois State Police will provide $2.5 million in seed money for the I-CLEAR merger.

Huberman said he might impose a user fee for maintenance on outside agencies using the database. There are also challenges in melding LEADS and CLEAR, which are used to operating unilaterally, Huberman said.

"I wouldn't call them barriers, but they're certainly challenges at the moment. We're now operating as a team, and as part of that process, there are questions about approval and governance -- things we're working through."

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor