New networking technology planned for Boone County law enforcement agencies

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Local law enforcement agencies, including the Columbia Police Department and Boone County Sheriff's Department, are implementing a new computer program that will allow officers and deputies on the street to instantly access city and county crime data from in-car laptops.

The new system, called InfoExchange, is to allow officers to find out about local warrants or possible suspects without having to check multiple databases, said Skip Jenkins, computer operations supervisor for the Columbia Police Department and chairman of the Central Missouri Regional Justice Information System Technical Committee.

Officers have been able to check for state and federal crime data for the past 10 years using databases such as the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System and the National Crime Information Center. The databases provide information on warrants, stolen vehicles and registered sex offenders, among other things, Jenkins said.

The new technology is expected to expand the amount of information officers can access and to allow them to enter notes about suspects into the shared system.

“Officers will have access via laptops in patrol cars to records information that they don’t normally have without returning to their offices,” said Major Tom Reddin of the Sheriff’s Department. “With the new technology, they will be able to access information such as warrants and intelligence information when they need it most."

Jenkins said the new system will not require officers to do anything differently in their searches, and that it will work in conjunction with the current in-car system.

The cost of InfoExchange will be covered by a federal information-sharing grant of about $60,000. The grant includes setup and maintenance fees for the next three years. Contracts for the new system have been signed with its creator, BIO-key International Inc., and both Jenkins and Reddin say they hope the system will be usable within weeks.

“I think it will be a big benefit locally and on a larger scale with data sharing and as an investigative tool,” Reddin said.

Hallsville and Sturgeon also plan to share data through InfoExchange, according to a news release from BIO-key. Ashland has received money to incorporate mobile data and Centralia is looking for grant money as well. Boone County will be the first in the state to implement the technology, Jenkins said. About 10 to 15 counties nationwide already use the system.

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Mark Foecking July 15, 2009 | 8:35 a.m.

This should also help with the crunch at Joint Communications.


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