SEARCH News

09Jan2015

Chats, Posts and Texts: Finding Their Place in a Court of Law

By Justin Fitzsimmons

By now, most of us have heard of cases where law enforcement professionals found incriminating evidence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and then used that evidence to gain a conviction in court. 

Anyone who watches NCIS would think this is standard operating procedure in police work today. Indeed, the recent Survey of Law Enforcement Personnel and Their Use of Social Media (conducted by LexisNexis® Risk Solutions 2014) supports that. This survey of the law enforcement community shows that eight out of 10 law enforcement professionals actively use social media as a tool in investigations. 

But the waters run murky when it comes to presenting this digital evidence in a courtroom.

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02Jan2015

SEARCH Partners with APPA, ICAOS to Develop and Pilot Adult Offender Information Exchange for Law Enforcement

Thousands of adult probationers and parolees are transferred across state lines every year.  Some of the transferees are potentially dangerous or high-risk—and notifying local law enforcement in the receiving state of these offender transfers can raise officer awareness and safety.

SEARCH partnered with the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision (ICAOS) to develop and pilot a new information exchange that uses state fusion centers to provide offender transfer notifications to local law enforcement agencies.

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02Jan2015

How do States Handle Bulk Sales of Public Criminal History Data? SEARCH Surveys Membership to Gauge State Practices

View or download the bulk data sale survey results

SEARCH staff recently conducted an informal survey of our Membership Group to gauge how different states handle the bulk sale of public criminal history data. Thirty states responded, with the majority of those reporting that they do not offer bulk sales of these records. 

The survey was conducted by Becki Goggins, SEARCH Director of Law and Policy, who provided the following survey highlights:

  • When asked whether their state provides bulk criminal history sales, respondents reported the following:
    • 8 (or 27.6%) said “yes”
    • 19 (or 65.5%) said “no”
    • 2 (or 6.9%) said “unknown”
    • 1 did not provide an answer
  • When asked which agencies provide bulk sales, respondents reported the following:
    • The same agency that hosts the state’s criminal history records repository – 5 states
    • State Administrative Office of Courts – 3 states
    • Local Law Enforcement Agencies – 2 states
    • Local Courts – 2 states
    • State Corrections Agency – 1 state
    • Local Corrections Agencies – 0 states
    • Other Agencies – 0 states
  • When asked how agencies determine prices for bulk data sales, respondents reported the following:
    • 4 states reported charging a standard fee per request
    • 1 state reported allowing “gateway purchases,” whereby end-users purchase records through a database interface 

Access to criminal history record information maintained by the states is governed by the laws of the individual states, and the level of access and methods of dissemination vary by state.  For specific details on community notification services and access to records, see Table 7a in Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2012 (PDF), a national survey compiled and analyzed by SEARCH and published by the U.S.

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15Dec2014

Limits of Warrantless Cell Phone Searches: What Law Enforcement Needs to Know

By Justin Fitzsimmons

Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court issued clear guidance to law enforcement when it comes to cell phone searches. The Court essentially said that you must get a warrant to search a cell phone, even if you come in contact with that phone during an arrest.

In its decision, the Court helped to bring the Fourth Amendment into the digital age. It’s likely that this is just the beginning for new rules on how law enforcement handles digital evidence in the 21st century.

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15Dec2014

Social Media Investigations: Making the Case for Formal Training for Law Enforcement

By Lauren Wagner

In this age of over-booking and budget cuts, many of us find it hard to carve out time for skills enhancement. We convince ourselves that we know what we’re doing and we seem to be getting by, so what’s the problem? 

But delaying or even avoiding critical skills enhancement can be detrimental—especially for law enforcement. 

One thing that teachers love most is seeing that “light bulb moment” in their students. It’s very rewarding to know that you’ve introduced people to a new concept or skill that will help them on a daily basis.

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20Nov2014

SEARCH Organizes November 19 Capitol Hill Briefing on Availability of Domestic Violence Protection Orders to the NICS

In response to a bipartisan request from Senate Judiciary Committee staff, SEARCH organized a briefing for congressional staff focusing on domestic violence protective orders (DVPO) and their availability to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the system used for background checks of firearms purchasers.

The November 19 event featured experts from the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), a domestic violence organization, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), and SEARCH who briefed invited staff members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

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14Nov2014

Software Developer Haiqi Wei Joins SEARCH Information Sharing Team

Ms. Haiqi Wei joined SEARCH as an Information Sharing Developer effective November 12, 2014. In this position, Ms. Wei will develop, implement, and deploy information sharing systems on behalf of SEARCH clients in local, state, tribal, and federal government settings. She will also provide programming, configuration and testing assistance, and consult on implementation architecture and design.

Ms. Wei has 11 years of experience as a software engineer. She specializes in developing applications using open source technologies and frameworks, including Java, Spring, Apache Camel, and Apache CXF, and has a solid understanding of relational databases, XML databases, Web Services, and X509 Certificate authentication.

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04Nov2014

Helping Pima County Exchange Justice-Health Information: SEARCH Shares Details of Project Success at NIEM in November

In a pilot project supported by SEARCH, stakeholders in Pima County, Arizona, leveraged national standards and practices to improve business processes, policies and technical solutions to conduct medical and health assessments for the 40,000-plus offenders arrested and booked in the county each year. 

What is NIEM?

The National Information Exchange Model is an XML-based information exchange framework. NIEM makes it possible for organizations to share critical data; as a result, people are empowered to make informed decisions that improve efficiency and help organizations advance their missions.

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31Oct2014

Georgia Governor Appoints New GCIC Director to SEARCH Membership

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal appointed Ms. Terri Fisher to serve as Georgia’s representative on the SEARCH Membership Group, effective September 1, 2014.

Ms. Fisher is Director of the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC), a division of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). GCIC/GBI is the state agency responsible for operational decisions and policy on managing Georgia criminal justice information, particularly criminal history record information.

Ms. Fisher replaces Ms. Terry Gibbons, who had served as Georgia’s SEARCH Member since April 2009, and who served a two-year term on the Board of Directors.

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20Oct2014

Enterprise Strategic Planning for Justice Information Sharing: Learn the “Why” and “How” from New SEARCH Publications

Justice and public safety organizations develop technology solutions so they can obtain and share justice information. This effort is rarely limited to a single agency—planning for technology and sharing information more often takes place as part of an enterprise that spans agency and jurisdictional boundaries.

It is particularly important for organizations to plan their efforts carefully. The justice enterprise is complex and can involve multiple participants, differing governing processes and rules, distinct business needs, and competing resources.

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