Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX)

By Dorsey, Michael; Smith, Douglas | Law & Order, July 2008 | Go to article overview

Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX)


Dorsey, Michael, Smith, Douglas, Law & Order


The Law Enforcement Information Exchange, or LInX, is a regional information sharing system created, coordinated, and primarily funded by the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). It has begun to revolutionize law enforcement in the 21st century.

In today's digital environment, information is more important than ever for the patrol officers, investigators and crime analysts supporting our communities.

LInX breaks down artificial jurisdictional and technical barriers between municipal, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies. This state-of-the-art collaborative information sharing program is currently operating in seven regional locations around the U.S.: Washington / Oregon; Hawaii; New Mexico; Gulf Coast, Texas; Florida / Georgia; Hampton Roads and Richmond, VA; and the Washington, DC, region. Three additional LInX regions are being prepared for deployment in 2008: Southern California, North Carolina, and a Department of Defense (DoD) Data Exchange for the DoD Criminal Investigative Organizations.

According to NCIS statistics, nearly 500 law enforcement agencies are using LInX in their daily routines, and more than 20,000 law enforcement professionals have been trained in and are employing LInX to achieve investigative and operational successes. Hampton Roads law enforcement agencies alone query LInX more than 100,000 times each month.

There are many important factors contributing to the success of LInX. This is a federally funded and regulated program, with complete ownership by the participating agencies. ease of access and retrieval of the data makes this an officer-friendly information tool. But the most compelling outcome, and success, is that bad guys (and women) are identified and ultimately go to jail more quickly after a crime is reported.

Dozens of success stories are posted every day across America. Every street cop and investigator knows that the faster a criminal goes to jail, the fewer crimes will be committed. With millions of records now available across jurisdictional lines at the fingertips of patrol officers, investigators and analysts, the identities, relationships, and current and past histories of the suspects are now pulled together in a single screen. Coupled with analytical tools like free-text search and link analysis, formerly unrelated information from pocket trash to task force operations are combined in a usable and actionable format.

Having current information available at the street level has enhanced officer safety and the ability to solve crime, fight terrorism and protect strategic assets. The ability to instantly retrieve relevant data on people with whom the officer is in contact or is about to contact-data contributed by other law enforcement professionals who have had histories with the subject-is making our law enforcement environment safer each day. Tactics and strategies can be developed and approached from a position of greatly improved knowledge of the subjects, their potential locations, associates, vehicles and past habits.

Those with more than 30 years of experience remember the frustration in closing cases committed by career criminals who routinely crossed jurisdictional lines. Their identities, relationships, addresses and accomplices were included in law enforcement files and records in neighboring agencies. But the time and effort required to find the information, if it indeed could be retrieved, was challenging at best, more often impossible.

Now that data from arrest and incident records, investigations, traffic reports, computer-aided dispatch data, booking records, warrants, field interviews, and other key law enforcement data sources is available automatically, the probability of solving crimes and incarcerating criminals has improved dramatically.

Officer M.C. Burnham of the Norfolk, VA, Police said, "LInX has been a godsend for a patrol officer like me. We have the system running in our cars and are able to look up police involvements on anybody at a moment's notice. …

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