Database Connects Cops
Florida law enforcement agencies will be the first in the nation to link arrest records and other information with a new networked system built with more than $1 million in state and federal funds.
The Florida Integrated Network for Data Exchange and Retrieval (FINDER) is a criminal-justice database created at the University of Central Florida that helps investigators connect crimes across jurisdictions and allows officers to detain suspects wanted elsewhere.
The system could help strengthen homeland security as well, especially since Sept. 11 plotter Mohammed Atta was stopped for speeding in Delray Beach, Fla., when he had an outstanding warrant in nearby Broward County. Because the officer could not access Broward County records, Atta was let go.
By 2007, FINDER will link up all 355 police agencies in the state, who will share costs for maintaining the system.
FINDER will initially include pawn-shop records, sex-offender data, and field-information reports that are written up for people who are detained or interviewed. Officials say such field-information report data could be analyzed to uncover terrorist plots.
With approximately 80 law enforcement agencies online so far, FINDER has already helped in at least 200 criminal cases, and officials see even more capabilities available with the inclusion of jail and prison records.
The ACLU says FINDER does not violate privacy because it draws from records already on file, unlike the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange system that was vigorously opposed for privacy threats.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Orlando Sentinel (02/06/05) P. B1; Ruz Gutierrez, Pedro.