The mid-sized Sheriff’s Department in the Volunteer State chose Case Closed Software after a long, thorough search for a solution provider capable of delivering “a feature-rich, affordable solution for managing investigations and the investigative unit”. The core modules of the software include Investigative Case Management, Link Analysis, Confidential Informants Management, Property & Evidence, Gang Tracking, and Departmental Reporting. According to a company spokesperson, the software also includes a mobile application for investigators in the field, and real-time alerting designed to help agencies solve crimes faster.
Case Closed Software said that the solution is being installed immediately, and that the agency will be fully implemented by April 30, 2017.
On November 24, 1971, a man using the name Dan Cooper purchased a $35 one-way airline ticket from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington. Not long after takeoff, he hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 and demanded $200,000 in cash along with two parachutes, which he received upon landing in Seattle. He then ordered the plane to take off and fly to Mexico City; during that flight, he jumped from the aircraft into the Oregon wilderness, securing his place as the only unsolved case in FAA history.
In early 2011, following a host of other investigations — both private and government-led — Tom Colbert picked up the trail of the man now known as D.B. Cooper. As an investigative reporter and producer living in Southern California, Colbert was tipped off by a source in the illicit drug trade who had credible — albeit circumstantial — evidence that D.B. Cooper was alive and living in California. Over the next few years, Colbert invested incredible amounts of time and personal resources toward tackling a 45-year-old mystery that so many other investigators before him had failed to solve.
A New Approach to Finding D.B. Cooper
Colbert assembled a large group of leading private investigators, detectives, attorneys, profilers and other subject matter experts into a group he called the “Cold Case Team.” He also knew he needed the expertise of intelligence professionals to help him organize and analyze all the evidence related to this case. While intelligence analysts almost always focus on using their skills for predictive analysis predictive analysis (i.e., what’s going to happen), Colbert knew having people proficient in intelligence collection and analysis would provide unique insight into a case that was decades old.
In December 2011, Colbert elicited my help while I was involved in an Army intelligence training contract. We had been associates and friends for a few years and he knew about my involvement in the Able Danger program. As a student, practitioner, developer and instructor of intelligence methodology, I was interested in his investigation because it was another chance for me to adapt intelligence analytical methods to a cold (very cold) case. I immediately agreed to support his efforts; he sent me a copy of a dossier on the man he suspected was D.B. Cooper.
It contained photos, maps, interview summaries and many other pieces of evidence connecting this man to the D.B. Cooper incident. Much of the initial information was secondhand and circumstantial, so Colbert was using it to provide further investigative leads for the Cold Case Team members.
Here is where I make my quick disclaimer: Collecting information on U.S. persons for intelligence purposes is prohibited by several federal regulations with very few specific exceptions. Even though I would be supporting a private investigation, I was working as a defense contractor at the time and therefore felt it was important to follow the spirit of these restrictions by creating products based only upon what the Cold Case Team provided. Neither myself nor my colleague independently searched for or collected any additional information for any part of this investigation.
That being said, it was an exceptional opportunity to use analytical intelligence techniques to assist in this investigation.
Using Link Analysis Techniques in the Investigation
In his meetings with various law enforcement officials, Colbert had grown frustrated that no one was taking the time to look through the dossier and consider the evidence. I gave it to one of my senior instructors, David D’Alessio, and asked him to make a link chart of associations using one of the best link analysis software programs available to us. A link chart is a graphic representation of the people, events, and significant items of interest (such as a bank account or address) associated with a particular subject. The key to these charts are the associations or “links” between each of the people, events and items in it.
Creating this chart was a painstaking process because D’Alessio had to go through each paragraph line by line, identify the relative linkages between entities and enter them into the software program. The initial link chart started with the main suspect and then drew graphic linkages to all his known associates their connections to third parties, and a host of other associations to events, locations, aliases and specific pieces of physical evidence. Working with D’Alessio and Colbert over several iterations of this chart, we ended up with a 3×2 foot poster that, to the untrained eye, looked a lot like charts shown in court or on television shows like Law and Order. There were hundreds of links to the main suspect, the many aliases he used over the years to include military records and associations that placed him in the vicinity of the Portland, Oregon area during the time of the hijacking.
The benefit of link analysis charts is that they do more than just show connections between entities. A link chart tells a comprehensive visual story and conveys a dynamic and detailed summary of information from the document supporting it. This technique proved immensely successful, as the visual representation helped capture attention and interest from outside parties.
How Intelligence Analysis Aided in the Investigation
Besides taking text-based information and turning it into a graphic visualization for presentation purposes, a link chart also helped the investigation in other ways. First, Colbert and his team were able to see gaps in the information where investigators needed to dig deeper. He could also see which links were strong and which were weak or tenuous. The team could then plan their investigations more effectively by identifying which gaps needed to be filled and prioritize how to best use their limited resources.
This chart also had a psychological value to the Cold Case Team. In 2013, one of the team’s private investigators presented it directly to the suspect and asked him to come forward. The hope was that once the suspect knew there was a vast amount of information on the identity of D.B. Cooper (not to mention it featured his picture right at the center). Revealing this chart helped Colbert enter into negotiations with the suspect’s lawyer and he came very close to a deal that would potentially involve an admission. Unfortunately, Colbert and the Cold Case Team were turned down at the last minute due to what we believe was his fear of being connected to other illicit activities.
Why Law Enforcement Must Partner More Often with Intelligence Agencies
Ultimately, this case demonstrates that intelligence analysis can play a crucial part in law enforcement investigations, both as a predictive asset as well as an investigative one. The D.B. Cooper investigation is decades old, but there are many other cases that are not. Other law enforcement agencies can use the techniques tested in this case to assist with other unsolved crimes, missing persons and patterns of criminal activity. It’s important for law enforcement authorities to remember that analysts in the intelligence field bring with them a toolkit that provides both unique and specialized analytical methods that can offer new perspectives. Bringing intelligence analysts into the fold of law enforcement can enhance a crime-solving team.
The federal government has awesome capabilities in intelligence collection and investigation but they are not alone. There is an equally awesome, yet untapped capability, in the commercial sector and among academia to support investigations like this and other more current cases. There are uncounted numbers of undergraduate and graduate students in criminal justice, data analysis and intelligence studies courses who would be eager to support a future case. In addition, there are also many retired law enforcement and intelligence professionals who would be eager to lend their experience and subject matter expertise to similar cases and problem sets, if only to satisfy the investigative bug still within them.
In a February 2014 report, Critical Capabilities for Case Management, Gartner Group® defined the following 11 critical capabilities for investigative case management solutions. Crime Tech Solutions applies all of these critical capabilities to the powerful CASE CLOSED™ SOFTWAREfor deployment at government and commercial investigative groups.
Investigative case management solutions always require a broad range of data types, from highly structured data (such as an individual’s name, address or ID) to highly unstructured data (such as scanned images, blueprints, faxes, email communications, and audio or video files).CASE CLOSED supports this requirement with unique and patented functionality that allows investigators to interact with this content, using capabilities such as view or read, comment, highlight, update or change, and append.
Supports a broad range of collaboration services to facilitate individual and group interactions among all (internal and external) case participants.Collaboration among people (and even potentially with third party software) is incorporated into CASE CLOSED so that all interactions are recorded as part of the audit trail of how a case is handled. CASE CLOSED’s built-in support for e-mail communications, messaging, and alerting further supports collaboration efforts – across the aisle or across departments.
Interoperates well with other external content and process services.Successful investigations and prosecutions often depend on external content and process services from repositories and applications. The attraction of CASE CLOSED’s open, standard specifications is that enterprises will know that integration with content repositories, web portals, and external software will require less custom code or specialized adapters.
Provides vertical – and horizontal – specific data models, nomenclature, hierarchies and case life cycle management. Crime Tech Solutions has substantial experience in specific domains such as financial crimes and law enforcement investigations. We have transferred the lessons learned from consistent use cases and data definitions directly into CASE CLOSED. Because investigative case management solutions are difficult to design and architect, such out-of-the-box configuration patterns tend to accelerate the implementation time.
Provides application adapters to industry and domain-specific environments. Crime Tech Solutions constantly endeavors to integrate with our customers’ critical systems of record. Crime Tech Solutions is well-acquainted with the specialized applications and data sources that dominate certain industries and domains, and thus CASE CLOSED offers accelerated integration with core systems of record.
Provides comprehensive, highly configurable, role-based user experiences. Designed by former law enforcement officials, CASE CLOSED offers role-based user interfaces that tend to focus and simplify case handling – a critical step toward productivity gains. Crime Tech Solutions idealizes the interface between case workers, the content in cases and the managers who make decisions based on the work in progress.
Provides business-role-friendly dashboards, metrics and reporting.Investigative groups want flexible and powerful case management solutions that allow them to manage and modify their own solutions, and to get meaningful information from them. As a result, CASE CLOSED provides access to case execution history, as well as appropriate dashboards, models, visualizations, reports and other tools to monitor, analyze and report on case handling.
Supports a broad range of case orchestration, from highly structured to highly unstructured flows.CASE CLOSED provides case orchestration for a spectrum of applications, ranging from very structured (predictable sequences of activities, usually represented in a flow model) to very unstructured (where progression is not easily predictable, and ad hoc activities may be invoked during the execution of the case). CASE CLOSED is also designed to easily adapt to the investigation group’s evolving business processes.
Has been proven in deployments with 100,000 cases or more annually which is especially important for areas such as claims management and fraud investigations.While some investigative case management deployments do not require the volume capabilities of 100,000 cases or more, others do. Crime Tech Solutions’ software has been designed – and has been deployed – with very large scale case handling as a critical capability.
Provides intelligent and versatile on-ramps and off-ramps for incorporating content (such as document capture, mobile phone cameras, fax servers and e-forms).It doesn’t matter how the information exists, whether on paper, in a digital document, as an image, in an email, in a voice mail or on the internet: CASE CLOSED is designed to allow capture and control with as much upfront intelligence as possible. Coupled with the ability to deliver various inbound content objects to a case folder is the ability for CASE CLOSED to generate outbound content (such as e-Brief), and the ability to export case data.
Leverages models for easy adaptability of the solution. CASE CLOSED leverages appropriate data models to enable business and technical roles to easily adjust their solutions as needed. This includes easy adaptation of the design as well as easy adaptation of executable behavior. Importantly, CASE CLOSED provides the ability for dynamic and ad hoc adjustments to in-flight work. This means that the execution path of in-flight cases can be immediately adjusted in an unanticipated (ad hoc) way.
According to Gartner, investigative cases are the most complex in terms of process (workflow) and content (data). These cases are data-heavy. Often, data is captured as part of the case and relationships between data elements emerge over time. Patterns in the data are discovered, evaluated and acted on. Sequencing of actions on the case is very ad hoc, and event/milestone-driven.
Figure 1 shows examples of case-based processes that fall under each of these four use-case categories, and shows the structured vs. unstructured nature of the processes and data associated with each.
Figure 1. Case-Based Processes
Source: Gartner (February 2014)
CASE CLOSED SOFTWARE from Crime Tech Solutions is designed specifically for the Investigative (data-heavy) market and resides in the upper right quadrant of diagram.
Law enforcement agencies everywhere are tasked with reducing and investigating crime with fewer and fewer resources at their disposal. “To protect and serve” is the highest responsibilities one can sign up for, particularly in light of recent well-publicized criticisms of police by activists in every city.
That responsibility weighs even heavier in a world with no shortage of criminals and terrorists. There’s never enough money in the budget to adequately deal with all of the issues that face an individual agency on a daily basis. Never enough feet on the street, as they say.
New Tools for Age-Old Problems
Perhaps that’s why agencies everywhere are moving to fight crime with an evolving 21st century weapon – law enforcement software including investigative case management, link and social network analysis, and, importantly, crime analytics with geospatial and temporal mapping.
Crime analytics and investigation software have proven themselves to be valuable tools in thwarting criminal activity by helping to better define resource allocation, target investigations more accurately, and enhancing public safety,
According to some reports, law enforcement budgets have been reduced by over 80% since the early 2000s. Still, agencies are asked to do more and more, with less and less.
Analytics in Policing
Analytics in law enforcement play a key role in helping law enforcement agencies better forecast what types of crimes are most likely to occur in a certain area within a certain window of time. While no predictive analytics solution offers the clarity of a crystal ball, they can be effective in affecting crime reduction and public safety.
Predictive analysis, in essence, is taking data from disparate sources, analyzing them and then using the results to anticipate, prevent and respond more effectively to future crime. Those disparate data sources typically include historical crime data from records management systems, calls for service/dispatch information, tip lines, confidential informant information, and specialized criminal intelligence data.
The Five W’s of Predictive Analytics
Within this disparate data lie the 5 W’s of information that can be used by crime analysis software to build predictions. Those key pieces include:
Arrest records – who committed crimes
Geospatial data – where crimes have occurred
Temporal data – when crimes have occurred
Statistical data – what crimes have occurred
Investigation data – why (and how) the crimes occurred
Using the 5 W’s, agencies are able to gain insight and make predictions about likely future criminal behavior. For example, if a certain type of crime (what) tends to occur in ‘this’ area (where) at ‘this’ time (when), and by ‘this’ type of individual (who) for ‘this’ reason (why)… it would be wise to deploy resources in that area at that time in order to prevent the incidents from ever occurring. This, of course, is a dramatic over-simplification of the types of analytics that make up predictive policing, but illustrates the general concept well.
Although criminals will always try to be one step ahead of the law, agencies deploying predictive analytics are able to maximize the effectiveness of its staff and other resources, increasing public safety, and keeping bad guys off the street.
September 13, 2016 – (Leander, TX) Crime Tech Solutions, a fast-growing provider of low cost crime fighting software and analytics today announced the appointment of Kevin Konczal as Vice President of Sales. The company created the position in response to rapid growth in market share for crime analysis and investigative case management software.
Mr. Konczal is a seasoned start-up and marketing expert with over 30 years of diversified business management, marketing and start-up experience in information technology and consumer goods. Additionally, Konczal has over two decades of Public Safety service as a police officer, Deputy Sheriff and Special Agent.
Most recently, he held the position as a Regional Sales Manager for TriTech Software Systems, a leading provider of public safety software.
“Kevin is a seasoned executive with a combination of public service and information technology expertise”, said Crime Tech Solutions’ chief technology officer Keith Weigand. “The management team is looking forward to adding his leadership within the sales organization.”
In addition to his executive career, Konczal serves on several advisory boards, commissions and boards of directors. He attended Oakland College studying Criminal Justice and completed the Dallas Police Academy. Notably, he was awarded the Police Commendation Award for saving the lives of fellow officers in a deadly force confrontation.
“The exciting thing about Crime Tech Solutions”, added Konczal “is their clear position as a fast-growing company dedicated to low price and high performance software for law enforcement.”
Crime Tech Solutions (www.crimetechsolutions.com) is a fast-growing U.S. based provider of low cost / high performance investigation software and crime analytics. The company proudly supports the International Association of Crime Analysts (www.iaca.net), International Association of Chiefs of Police (www.iacp.org), the National Sheriff’s Association (www.sheriffs.org), and the association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (www.leiu.org).
The company’s products include Case Closed investigative case management software, link and social network analytics, 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence management software, enterprise search for law enforcement, and crime analytics with mapping, reporting, and predictive policing.
A recent report questions how some police departments are using data to forecast future crimes.
The report examined how departments are utilizing predictive policing, a computer software that uses data to forecast where crime may happen, who may commit it and who could be potential victims.
Logan Koepke, an analyst who coauthored the report, said the handful of departments that use the software don’t appear to give patrol officers much guidance on what to do with the information provided.
“One problem we’ve seen is there is not a lot of direction from police departments or from vendors about what officers in the field should do once they look at a prediction,” Koepke said.
Upturn, an analysis organization out of Washington, D.C., that works with a variety of groups, published the report “Stuck in a Pattern” last month. “Predictive policing,” the report states, is a marketing term popularized by vendors who sell the software.
The group’s research showed areas that use the software often don’t engage the public in discussion about predictive policing and questioned whether or not departments who use it are measuring the impact the data-driven tool has on policing and crime rates.
How police departments nationwide utilize crime statistics and the software available to patrol officers monitoring incidents has evolved a lot in the past couple decades, Sgt. Tracy Barton with the St. Joseph Police Department said. Barton started as a patrol officer 20 years ago. He said having software like police have today would have been useful.
“I was in District 7, which is the Midtown area. It would have been really cool to know where crime is occurring in District 7 and that I could look that up on a computer and have it at my fingertips where I could see it on an up-to-date basis,” Barton said.
In the past, crime analysts used physical maps and mathematical algorithms to do what software does instantly today. Barton, the St. Joseph Police Department’s crime analyst, uses software that takes into account crimes reported to police to show crime hot spots in the city. A map of those hot spots is available online. Officers, he said, have access to a more in-depth version of that hot spots map, which includes extra details about the area and the crimes occurring.
The hot spots approach St. Joseph police use is most helpful in preventing crime when a series of crimes occur or when there is a crime pattern in a given area, he said. St. Joseph’s small size, Barton added, poses an extra challenge.
The St. Joseph Police Department has had its current software for just a few years. It doesn’t fit the definition of the predictive policing software Upturn outlines in the recent report. The software used locally depends on crime reports police receive. Predictive policing also looks at what types of business are located in an area, if repeat offenders live nearby and other information to predict where crimes may occur. Typically, according to the recent report, predictive policing takes one of two approaches, focusing either on place-based data or person-based data to make predictions.
Kevin Bryant, sociology and criminology professor at Benedictine College, said when people hear predictive policing described, they often think of the movie “Minority Report.” The software, he said, is nothing like in the movies.
“Predictive policing now has kind of morphed into better proactive methods that are based on prediction to some extent in forecasting risk,” Bryant said of how data-driven policing has changed over time. “But what we’ve learned through evaluation studies is that it’s really more important what the police do when they’re in a crime hot spot.”
Bryant worked with the Shawnee, Kansas, Police Department on research that looked at what he calls “smart policing.” In his research and in other work he has read, Bryant said it’s important for police to have a high visibility in crime hot spots, for officers to make connections with the public and for them to avoid staying in crime hot spots for extended periods of time.
When police are in a hot spot for too long, public surveys show area residents feel like they are being picked on rather than protected, he said. Predictive policing takes into account businesses in a given area. Bryant said some types of facilities are at a higher risk of victimization and others can attract crime to an area.
“Knowing where bars, taverns, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores are, we can actually use their locations as a means of forecasting where crime might emerge at a later date,” Bryant said. “Part of predictive policing is predicting who the risky offenders are and that can be controversial.”
Upturn’s report also explored an ongoing debate among criminologists on the impact of using crime reports when determining patrol.
“Criminologists have long emphasized that crime reports and other statistics gathered by the police are not an accurate record of the crime that happens in a community,” the report states.
Police statistics, Koepke said, reflect officer enforcement efforts, not just crime.