Criminal Justice Information Services: Gearing Up for the Future

By Sessions, William S. | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, February 1993 | Go to article overview

Criminal Justice Information Services: Gearing Up for the Future


Sessions, William S., The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


In 1965, futurist Alvin Toffler coined the term "future shock." Ultimately, this term came to mean "the dizzying orientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future.(1)

As Toffler predicted, the world is currently in the throes of unprecedented, monumental change--change in social values, political and economic change in the global community, and change in technology. Along with these changes come a series of demands and challenges that significantly affect the FBI.

In particular, the vast and ever-changing flow of information makes new demands on FBI services. Accordingly, the FBI's commitment to serve the criminal justice community and to fulfill its responsibilities to the American public dictates that steps be taken to meet these demands.

Therefore, a new division--the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division--has been established to consolidate the FBI's criminal justice services and associated information systems. With this, the FBI builds on its long-standing tradition of providing quality service to local, State, Federal, and international law enforcement.

A HISTORY OF SERVICE

Throughout its history, the FBI sought to meet the needs of the criminal justice community. The creation of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), and fingerprint identification services achieved this goal.

NCIC plays a vital role by providing law enforcement agencies rapid access to documented criminal justice information. Records on stolen property, criminal histories, and wanted, missing, and unidentified persons allow NCIC users to retrieve information on criminals when they need it.

The Uniform Crime Reports generates a reliable set of criminal statistics for use in law enforcement administration, operations, and management. Its data are one of the Nation's leading social indicators, offering a reliable measure of criminality.

The FBI's identification services operate as a centralized repository and clearinghouse for fingerprint records. The fingerprint files act as a locator or index of criminal arrest activity throughout the United States.

BUILDING ON SUCCESS

Currently, the FBI is building on its success to provide better service. NCIC is moving toward becoming NCIC-2000. The UCR's national incident-based reporting system--NIBRS--will bring new capabilities to the FBI. And, IAFIS, an integrated, automated fingerprint identification system, will revolutionize the FBI's ability to maintain a current and effective fingerprint identification operation. The advances being integrated into current operations will serve as the FBI's path into the future.

NCIC-2000

With the NCIC-2000 system, police officers will be able to quickly identify fugitives and missing persons by placing a subject's finger on a fingerprint reader in a patrol car. The reader will then transmit the image to the NCIC computer at FBI Headquarters, and within minutes, the computer will forward a reply to the officer.

A printer installed in patrol cars will allow officers to get copies of a suspect's photograph, fingerprint image, signature, and tattoos, along with artist conceptions and composite drawings of unknown subjects. The printer will also be able to receive images of stolen goods, including cars. These functions will virtually eliminate false arrests based on erroneous identifications.

NIBRS

NIBRS serves as an added crime-fighting tool that is being implemented across the Nation. This system offers a wealth of crime information never before available, including information on such emerging issues as hate crimes. It addresses almost all current criminal justice issues, providing decisionmakers with reliable, comprehensive, uniform data as they develop crime resistance measures.

IAFIS

Over the years, FBI identification services supported State and local crime investigations by examining latent fingerprint evidence from crime scenes and by processing 10-print fingerprint cards sent to FBI Headquarters. …

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