Colo. To Join States Using Data-Mining Program on Criminal Suspects

Colorado is getting a spiffy new data-mining program, courtesy of a federal budget earmark. Of course, that's not what they call it (they call it a "crime fighting tool"), but a little digging shows that's what it is and many other states(Arizona is one) are using it too.

Another hint:

On Tues. May 26th the Colorado Information Sharing Consortium will hold a special news conference on the steps of the state capitol to unveil its latest crime fighting tool, a statewide data sharing network called “COPLINK”. This new system will allow street cops and investigators to analyze information regarding individuals, property, vehicles, and incidents from a variety of state and local law enforcement records.
Coplink is sold by Knowledge Computing Corp. [More...]

From its website:
COPLINK provides unparalleled analysis and decision support by rapidly identifying criminal suspects, relationships and patterns that help solve crime and thwart terrorism. It works by allowing vast quantities of structured and seemingly unrelated data - including data currently housed in various incompatible databases and records management systems - to be organized, consolidated and rapidly analyzed over a highly secure intranet-based platform. (my emphasis)
It continues:
It enables law enforcement to produce leads in seconds of possible criminal suspects, relationships, and patterns by searching known or partial facts from an investigation. The Solution works by searching vast quantities of structured and seemingly unrelated data - including data currently housed in various incompatible databases and records management systems - to be securely organized, consolidated and rapidly analyzed, making if far more difficult for criminals, gangs and terrorists to operate across multiple jurisdictions undetected. Because of the COPLINK's modular components and tier based pricing structure, the software is available to and customizable for sworn populations of all sizes.
Colorado got a federal grant of $600k in 2007 to start working with the program. But it wasn't enough. This bill passed the legislature a few months ago.
WHEREAS, Even though the Colorado Information Sharing Consortium was able to secure a single license fee for the software for use 20 by law enforcement agencies throughout the state, the costs of implementing the COPLINK program statewide are still prohibitive; and

....Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Sixty-seventh General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the Senate concurring herein:

...(2) That we encourage law enforcement agencies to apply for federal grants to help offset the costs of implementing the COPLINK program if they are not able to pay for the program on their own; and

(3) That we encourage the members of Colorado's Congressional delegation to help secure federal funds for an expanded COPLINK program in Colorado.

In addition to its data-mining program, Coplink's owners recently announced it acquired the assets Canadian-based Visiphor Corporation:
Under the agreement KCC has acquired Visiphor's Facial, Scene and Image Recognition technology. Facial and image recognition technology is rapidly becoming a required tool for identity resolution. The ability to positively identify an individual from a digital photo or video frame gives law enforcement another weapon in their fight against crime.

"Our plan is to offer a facial and image recognition capability inside COPLINK within the second quarter of this year" said Bill Oliver, KCC Vice President of Advanced Development. "This capability will enable COPLINK users to search for individuals using facial photos or composite sketches. An additional search capability will allow users to search for similar images such as gang tattoos and graffiti."

... While sharing information is at the heart of COPLINK, it is the program's ability to provide tactical lead generation through sophisticated analytics that have driven its adoption in nearly 3000 jurisdictions across the country. (my emphasis)

What will Coplink do for Colorado?
Colorado’s public safety agencies are currently in the unique position to implement an effective and efficient information sharing project known as COPLINK. COPLINK is an automated information sharing program which will provide a significant regional and statewide information collection, analysis and sharing capacity. Once implemented, the COPLINK program will include: inmate descriptors; investigative leads; current case data; cold case data; crime analysis information; crime trends/patterns; suspect descriptors; and actionable intelligence. All of this information will be available for immediate use and exchange by Colorado’s public safety professionals. (My emphasis)
Coplink works with the feds' Global Justice XML Data Model and either already or soon will use the NEIM standards. From an article a year ago:
"Within the system, we'll do correlation of data, pull out entities [incident data] and provide the ability to search the data," says program manager Kevin Reid. Investigators can use the system to make connections among incidents that might help to identify and track down suspects, says Brown.

Here's the webpage for the Justice Department's Global Information Sharing Initiative .

So the cops will electronically share all this information, including data-mined leads. Then come the fusion centers with "the capability of blending law enforcement information and intelligence." More here.

How does it work in practice? They use standardized templates. On the first one, they'll fill in the suspect's name and address. Then they can click through to get a variety of information, from criminal history to ICE records. OK, that's law enforcement related. But, how about this? Check the bottom two records:

Mr. Sanchez was last seen April 19 in the company of...
Mr. Alvarez reports Mr. Sanchez placed a phone call to his sister.

It's bad enough that when you are stopped for a traffic violation, the cop has the capability to get your credit report up on the computer screen in the patrol car. This goes a lot further. The wall between intelligence gathering and criminal law enforcement was there for good reason. Now, it's gone.

And, what happens if the information is compromised? Or, as is more likely, inaccurate? Don't look to the Supreme Court for help, present or future:

Judge Sotomayor’s rulings have sometimes anticipated decisions of the Supreme Court. In 1999, for instance, she refused to suppress crack cocaine found by police officers who were executing a warrant that had been vacated 17 months before but never deleted from a police database.

That kind of error, Judge Sotomayor said, did not require suppression. The Supreme Court came to the same conclusion in January, a decade after Judge Sotomayor’s decision.

So, while Congress and our state legislatures can't afford to provide residents with adequate health care or foreclosure protection, and skimp on education, Coplink and Knowledge Computing Corp. are laughing all the way to the bank.
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    Creepy (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 27, 2009 at 08:06:51 AM EST
    I didn't know that my credit report can be obtained by officers either.  All sorts of extreme power granted to them these days.  I wonder if the cop who pulled me over near Atlanta looked at my credit report and figured that I could afford the whopping ticket he wrote me. If I had been a college student would I have received a warning?  Huge abuses will end up coming out of all this eventually.  Someone who has ticked the wrong person off is really going to get munched by someone in power.

    That should not be allowed! (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed May 27, 2009 at 09:06:10 AM EST
    Every check on your credit report has the potential of lowering your score, and they know who's making the request. So, now will credit reporting agencies be able to tell potential employers how many times you've been pulled over by the cops?

    I'm already outraged (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by sj on Wed May 27, 2009 at 10:10:32 AM EST
    that the credit reporting agencies have so much control over your life and are completely unaccountable.  You can't even talk to a representative directly.

    It infuriates me that they are private companies that can essentially decide whether or not you will make a major purchase and what the cost of the purchase will be.

    They determine whether or not you can open a bank account.

    They sell your information and then penalize you when a company uses that information without your consent.

    I know I'm rambling and kind of just throwing sh!t against the wall, but I really, really hate the credit reporting "agencies".  They are three companies.  And they influence everyone and everything.  And have no stake in it.

    And now cops can see your report when they pull you over?  What is the law enforcement benefit of that?  Since they exist to serve the financial world, I have a few guesses as to how this would affect the actions of a cop on  routine traffic stop.


    Equifax says I don't exist. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Ben Masel on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:40:47 AM EST
    No credit cards, no loans.

    Too bad I saw your myspace (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:47:05 AM EST
    That's awesome, actually (none / 0) (#20)
    by sj on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:48:36 AM EST
    How does your insurance company (none / 0) (#30)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed May 27, 2009 at 02:58:28 PM EST
    determine your rates? They have a whole "study" claiming that if you are late on one bill you are more apt to file a claim against your policy. (Okay, so that's embellished, but they make me roll my eyes constantly.) They actually do claim that 50 years of never having filed an insurance claim is less of an indicator to future behavior than a black mark on your credit report.

    What insurance company? (none / 0) (#35)
    by Ben Masel on Wed May 27, 2009 at 07:28:46 PM EST
    It's all relative... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Wed May 27, 2009 at 05:38:19 PM EST
    as far as I'm concerned Equifax and the rest of the economic tyrannizers don't exist.

    I just edited to reflect they have the capability (none / 0) (#24)
    by Jeralyn on Wed May 27, 2009 at 12:58:25 PM EST
    The government and law enforcement contract with private companies like Choicepoint to access information. Here's an example of a DOJ memo outlining a purchase contract with Choicepoint. Now that info will be shared, it's only a matter of time before the computer in the patrol car will have it.  Here's a good report, as is the EPIC page on Choicepoint. More here.

    With the Real ID act, the information becomes even more accessible.


    Epic page (none / 0) (#25)
    by Jeralyn on Wed May 27, 2009 at 01:05:55 PM EST
    Thank you so much for this information (none / 0) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 27, 2009 at 01:08:23 PM EST
    Jeralyn.  It's very disturbing knowing this as we head into economic tough times.  Are those of us who are more able to pay fines at this time going to be cherry picked for fining?

    Drive old beat up cars!! ;) (none / 0) (#28)
    by nycstray on Wed May 27, 2009 at 01:37:48 PM EST
    We do have one of those (none / 0) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 28, 2009 at 08:04:25 AM EST
    A Suzuki wagon, all paid off years ago.  Gets good gas mileage and recently needed a new engine and we decided to spring for the engine because this isn't really time for a new car.  They aren't offering us any terrific energy saving technologoy yet.  My only reason for junking it would have been that it wasn't that safe to drive when everyone else was driving a tank.  The economy has led to the tanks staying off the roads now a lot more so this car is enjoying a second life of usefulness.

    Additional deployments (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Ben Masel on Wed May 27, 2009 at 08:16:37 AM EST
    Chicago, Los Angeles, Tuscon, Phoenix, Alaska.

    I agree that (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by JamesTX on Wed May 27, 2009 at 10:03:06 AM EST
    the credit report is creepy. A little reflection tells how powerful that information can be. It tells the cop immediately the quality of criminal defense which you can afford, and in the current atmosphere that is crucial information. It allows them to target those who present no danger from a legal perspective because they can't afford competent defense.

    I still think a full sweep public (and private) records search of an individual encountered by law enforcement on the street is an unreasonable search. Not only is there an issue with probable cause, but it isn't clear how the information is relevant. There is also no way to assess the accuracy or completeness of the information, and partial information can lead to terribly incorrect conclusions.

    I think they should be limited to searching police records. That is perfectly understandable. But credit reports? Medical records? Education records? Phone records? Rent or own? How can this be rationalized?

    To see the problems with it, consider what information the person being stopped might be interested in having about the police officer. Would that be considered legal?

    Sadly Don... (none / 0) (#33)
    by kdog on Wed May 27, 2009 at 05:42:03 PM EST
    the only rationalization the state needs is "cops good, guy in cuffs bad"...and that's all most people need to hear I'm afraid.

    yes, I realize (none / 0) (#37)
    by JamesTX on Wed May 27, 2009 at 07:47:31 PM EST
    the conservative revolution has perfected that attitude in most of the public. They no longer feel any sense of guilt over it, and the younger ones, having nothing to compare to, think it is perfectly rational. Somewhere, though, the logic has to match up.

    If guilt is known a priori, then there is no need for due process. If the presumption of innocence is quaint, then we need to address that and get it off the books.

    This country is double dipping. They get to enjoy the claim that they have due process, presumption of innocence, and equal protection. If those are outdated ideas, then Americans shouldn't get to advertise that they have a fair and just criminal procedure, when in fact it doesn't exist. Its like false advertising. If this is the kind of system Americans want, then they should put it in writing instead of lying about it.


    But honesty... (none / 0) (#42)
    by kdog on Thu May 28, 2009 at 10:23:20 AM EST
    is not our forte either...we prefer illusions and fairy tales and willful ignorance.

    Man (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by kaleidescope on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:27:13 AM EST
    These kind of tools would be awesome for the public to have in keeping track of politicians and cops.  Can a private entity like Google develop something like this so we can use it to keep track of what the government is doing?

    I wonder if you could build career out of it? (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:30:04 AM EST
    Set up a website where citizen political P.I.s make "ireports"?

    My understanding is (none / 0) (#38)
    by JamesTX on Wed May 27, 2009 at 07:58:05 PM EST
    that those systems usually fail because when you report on the powerful, they can afford the legal fees to shut you down. Try to report on banks, or doctors, or any powerful group, and they will shut you down. That is, they'll take you out if you get too big or if they get any sense that you are actually causing them to lose income. You can find stuff like this on the net, but its usually small and inconsequential to the targets.

    budget (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by DCblogger on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:31:22 AM EST
    notice that when this sort of technology is introduced, no one asks "can we afford it?" No, that question only gets asked about health care or something someone would actually want.

    Sotomayor isn't a great choice then (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dadler on Wed May 27, 2009 at 10:36:28 AM EST
    Seems she has totalitarian tendencies just like all the rest.  Oh well, another feather in Obama's change cap.

    Where did Souter come in (none / 0) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 27, 2009 at 10:54:27 AM EST
    on rights to privacy?

    I have to go to class (none / 0) (#22)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:59:18 AM EST
    but I did some quick googling and there is richness in Googledom, if you're interested in a search of your own.



    They can do this already? (none / 0) (#10)
    by nycstray on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:01:41 AM EST
    It's bad enough that when you are stopped for a traffic violation, the cop has your credit report up on the computer screen in the patrol car.

    As a non-driver, I'm getting the impression that when I put myself behind the wheel, I'm giving up all my rights. Some may want my blood, others, all my private info, oy.

    Just another reason to love some mass (none / 0) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:10:33 AM EST
    transit and rejoice in your lack of a car if you are a New Yorker surviving just fine without one :)

    I moving to the mountains (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by nycstray on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:48:58 AM EST
    in CA. I'm going to have to drive for the first time in my life. It's beginning to look seriously unappealing, lol!~ Things have certainly changed since I took driver's training in HS. I'm going to need a basic course in law. I can see myself getting in serious trouble arguing with authorities about what I believe are my rights.

    If you can talk a loved one... (none / 0) (#34)
    by kdog on Wed May 27, 2009 at 05:44:50 PM EST
    into putting the car and insurance in their name, you can always wing it without a license stray.

    When liberty is outlawed, only outlaws have liberty:)


    I've been walking around without (none / 0) (#39)
    by nycstray on Wed May 27, 2009 at 09:11:40 PM EST
    ANY valid ID for years. I need to at least get a permit so I can board a plane :)

    I'm also in a predicament because I don't have enough "stuff" to add up to enough points so I can get an ID. Apparently a birth certificate and notarized whatever other doc I have that I used in CA all those years ago isn't enough . . .


    Should result in a serious reduction (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:09:45 AM EST
    of need for real live law enforcement officers, no?

    A potential brightside? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:12:28 AM EST
    For taxpayers--if they (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Wed May 27, 2009 at 11:14:30 AM EST
    aren't victims of crime.

    Computers, Freedom, Privacy conference (none / 0) (#27)
    by Ben Masel on Wed May 27, 2009 at 01:19:16 PM EST
    Next week in DC (June 1-4)


    i'll be there.

    Whatever protocols you put in place (none / 0) (#36)
    by Ben Masel on Wed May 27, 2009 at 07:35:21 PM EST
    there'll be users with higher-level access who can bypass them, as well as potential for back doors to have been installed in developing the software.

    Conversely (none / 0) (#40)
    by jbindc on Thu May 28, 2009 at 07:36:11 AM EST
    If you're in Detroit, you may want this kind of technology:

    Empty jail cells are normally something to celebrate, but Wayne County's top law enforcement officials say the hundreds of vacant jail beds are not because of a drop in crime or more reasonable sentencing. Floors of the downtown Detroit jail are empty because police are arresting fewer people accused of those crimes.

    Altogether, three county jails that held about 2,500 prisoners a year ago now house 400 fewer inmates.

    Sheriff Warren Evans said police are so slow to respond to some calls that the crimes never get reported. Prosecutor Kym Worthy was more blunt:

    "We don't tell the truth about crime," she said.

    Detroit has lost hundreds of sworn officers in recent years. The Police Department didn't respond to repeated requests for interviews with its top leaders, but it released preliminary statistics showing an overall decline in criminal activity this year, despite a 24% increase in homicides.


    The main explanation is simple, according to the county's top two law enforcement officials: Detroit police are making fewer arrests, a dereliction so obvious it has led some Detroiters to conclude there's no point in even calling the cops.


    No one is questioning the integrity or competence of underpaid Detroit police officers. They work hard and, in many cases, risk their lives daily. But the department continues to do 1970s-style policing, reacting to crime rather than using data-driven policing efforts. The Michigan Department of Corrections and other criminal justice agencies have information that would enable the department to focus its resources on people most likely to commit crimes.

    "In dealing with crime, particularly violent crime, a data-driven surgical approach is the direction we need to go," said former U.S. Attorney Saul Green, group executive for public safety under new Mayor Dave Bing. "I do believe we have some improvements to make in that area."

    Until then, floors of empty Wayne County jail cells -- normally a reason to celebrate -- should comfort no one