Database Sparks Arson Investigation Expansion
In 2004, the Attorney General instructed the Department of Justice’s chief information officer to integrate all of the department’s arson and explosives incident database into a single database maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and based on the BATS (Bomb Arson Tracking System) model.
As a result, investigators of arson- and explosives-related incidents can now share real-time information using a secure, nationwide system. BATS, which is an Internet-accessible system for state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, contains more than 32,000 records as well as an additional 140,000 records from previous databases now stored in the Arson and Explosives Incident System (AEXIS), which will eventually be converted to BATS.
One feature that has proven itself useful to Maine’s Office of the State Fire Marshal–which was one of the first agencies piloting the system and one of the first agencies to go live with it–is the feature that allows investigators to search for a particular piece of information, such as a suspect’s name. Before BATS, Maine investigators who wanted to query a suspect’s name had to search paper archives. Now, however, investigators can search for a suspect’s name in BATS, and if information about the suspect has already been entered into the system, investigators can get the name and contact information of the person who entered the case into BATS and contact that person for more information.
The system continues to add more features, including more granular activity for the bomb squad community, which will allow the user to map selected local and national arsons and bombings.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from Law Enforcement Technology (11/05) Vol. 32, No. 11, P. 46; Kanable, Rebecca.