Release of ViCAP's "New" Sexual Assault Software

The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, August 2006 | Go to article overview

Release of ViCAP's "New" Sexual Assault Software


The FBI's Critical Incident Response Group's (CIRG) Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) is a nationwide data information center that collects, collates, and analyzes crimes of violence. Cases submitted to ViCAP are compared with all cases in ViCAP's database to identify similar ones. The database, in existence since 1985, currently contains in excess of 168,000 cases of homicide, sexual assault, missing persons, and unidentified death. (1)

Currently, ViCAP has more than 18 crime analysts, along with program management personnel, instructional technology (IT) specialists, over 900 law enforcement agency clients throughout the United States, and a decentralized database management system all working together to solve violent crimes. Crime data is entered in a law enforcement organization's ViCAP client workstation at the user end and is provided in electronic format via their Law Enforcement Online (LEO) connection to CIRG. Alternatively, agencies can mail a media disk or hard copy of the data to ViCAP for entry in the system. The crime analysts collect all data and compare, analyze, link, and help solve crimes using the tools offered by ViCAP. However, due to the growth of the program, the current computer system and mode of operation has become too costly to operate due to the original system requirements and software licensing costs.

Creation of a Web-based Application

The FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, Information Technology Operations Division (ITOD), and ViCAP have developed a short-term plan. The ITOD IT staff is working on a new design of the ViCAP system to deploy in fiscal year 2006. ViCAP is developing applications to enable the current client server-based application to transition to a more robust and user-friendly Web-based one. The updated system will eliminate the need for many of the system licenses required under the current design. Also, it will take advantage of the LEO system capabilities and allow local and state users to utilize their own suite of computers for data entry. These efforts will help save significant amounts of money once deployed. Further, users will be able to search on any field or combination of fields across the entire ViCAP database. Other advantages of a Web-based application include--

* a centralized database;

* instantaneous access to the database;

* no importing and exporting;

* easier maintenance;

* servers and a database in one location;

* no distribution of software to agencies; and

* structured and full-text searches.

Since July 1, 2005, ViCAP case data can be accepted only via LEO e-mail through portable storage media (e.g., CD-ROM, floppy diskette) or a hard copy. The LEO network is a secure means by which all state and local law enforcement agencies can share information with the FBI (and each other) via the Internet at no cost.

A New Component

ViCAP recently developed a comprehensive Sexual Assault Report form and designed, created, and implemented a corresponding application to work in conjunction with both the ViCAP Client Server and Client Server applications. (2) As a result of successful beta testing, a limited release of ViCAP Sexual Assault Version 3.0 software occurred on November 11,2005, via ViCAP's sub-SIG (Special Interest Group) on the FBI's LEO. This sub-SIG, "The ViCAP Law Enforcement Administrators (LEA) Area" is restricted for use only by approved ViCAP LEAs, the primary person responsible for the day-to-day operation and administration of the ViCAP system within a law enforcement agency. (3) The ViCAP 3.1 features the new sexual assault component, so it is even more crucial that law enforcement-sensitive data does not travel across the Internet. Therefore, ViCAP will deploy the 3.1 version via the secure LEO Web site, which allows for the additional security features of:

* verifying that all users are entitled to be on LEO and are law enforcement personnel;

* ensuring that LEO issues all accounts and that users employ complicated passwords;

* using VPN technology, which allows users to enter LEO encrypted through the Internet from any location; and

* adding another form of security by using SIGs. …

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Release of ViCAP's "New" Sexual Assault Software
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