Tag Archives: police investigations

The benefits of investigation case management software

You needn’t be a criminal investigator for particularly long before beginning to feel overwhelmed. Even the most seasoned detectives can be torn between competing priorities such as internal briefings, public scrutiny, phone calls, emails, and the general business that police officers experience every day.

Causing even more grief – and consuming additional time and resources – are the routine tasks of managing investigation case files, documents, interviews, supplemental reports, as well as preparing for DA meetings, court dates, and so on. The manual effort of attempting to locate specific pieces of evidence or paper documents, and then trying to determine how they fit together and disseminating the conclusions is massive.

Managing a criminal investigation becomes more and more difficult each day, given the sheer amount of information generated. Evidence and clues must be garnered from things such as call detail records, body cam video, crime scene photos, arrest records, calls for service data, search warrant results, physical evidence management, and so on… and they all combine to make management of individual cases nearly impossible without the appropriate resources

In an era where senior law enforcement officials are being asked to do ‘more’ with ‘less’, however, those resources can rarely come by way of additional staff. Instead, there are technology solutions, thankfully, that ease the pain that lies in the process of managing criminal investigations.

Investigation Case Management Software (ICMS) such as Case Closed Software provides investigation units with a solution that reduces the paper chase, keeps everything in order, and helps investigators close more cases, more quickly.

From a resource utilization perspective, effective ICMS automates the time-consuming tasks of:

  • Storing and retrieving documents such as witness statements, complaints, and supplemental reports
  • Locating and managing important audio and video files
  • Tracking physical evidence
  • Effectively communicating with counterparts
  • Keeping up with assigned tasks
  • Managing incoming tips and leads
  • Developing and understanding connections across incidents and cases
  • And much, much more.

From a productivity perspective, the benefits are also wide and varied:

  • ICMS saves everything in real time. Detectives never have to worry about losing important documents.
  • Allows case data to be entered anywhere – in the office, in the field, or at home.
  • Makes everything searchable. People. Places. Things… everything is cross-indexed and easily ‘findable’.
  • Provides real-time alerts to notify agents when and if information matches something already in the system.
  • Generates standard reports with a few keystrokes based on information in the system.
  • Easy preparation for internal status update meetings.
  • Allows investigators to share case files internally – or externally to the DA.
  • Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

Many agencies are still operating investigations on paper files or antiquated, unfriendly systems because they believe the cost of implementing ICMS is prohibitive. Nothing could be further from the truth. The cost of effective software is now well within reach of the vast majority of law enforcement agencies. More importantly, the benefits far outweigh these costs.

Spend less. Solve more cases. Case Closed Software. Download a free brochure.

Save a tree… Go digital for investigation case management!

 

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Time to move past paper files for case management. Case Closed Software: A tree’s best friend

 

paper filesPosted by Tyler Wood, Director of Operations at Case Closed Software.

Investigation Case Management (ICM) and Major Case Management (MCM) for law enforcement have always required a great deal of effort. Keeping track of every lead, every record, every relevant piece of information always takes time and manpower. Especially if the agency is stuck using paper-based files, cluttered file cabinets, and disorganized evidence rooms.

Modern case management technology allows the complex task of filing and organizing to be done in a simple piece of software, allowing the job to be done more quickly and with less risk of error. Unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies today are still using the traditional method of case management, even though a software approach has several distinct advantages:

Simplicity. Managing all the relevant paperwork and information for criminal investigations is labor intensive and susceptible to human error. A person must file all documentation such as witness reports, suspect information, crime scene reports, etc… into a file cabinet to be retrieved manually when needed. This creates a likelihood that something will eventually be placed in the wrong folder and an investigation could be weakened or compromised. A powerful case management software, however, will store all this data electronically on a central database. Data is able to be searched for and retrieved instantaneously by any authorized investigator. This streamlines the investigation process and makes document filing safer and less prone to error.

Cross-referencing. Paper copies of data, obviously, cannot be automatically searched through. If evidence from Investigation A happens to also be relevant to Investigation B, then with a traditional filing system and investigator would have to recall that information from memory then physically search through the files in order to find the relevant data. An electronic system will come with a powerful search function and the ability to cross reference against other investigation files with the click of a button. This allows law enforcement to more quickly gather relevant data.

In addition, law enforcement can also instantly share data between agencies. The sharing of data across agencies makes law enforcement across the nation more effective. Cross-referencing is a very important feature to have, especially when dealing with gangs and other organized crime in which evidence may be spread out among several related suspects.

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Control. Using a secure electronic case management system, a supervisor can know exactly who accessed which data at what time. They can limit access to certain investigators in order to keep prying eyes out of the files. These features let supervisors rest easy knowing that their case files are kept digitally under their control.

Law enforcement agencies in the 21st century cannot afford to live in the past as far as case management goes. The convenience, simplicity, powerful features, and security of an electronic case management system is invaluable to investigators across the globe. In a world where criminals are becoming increasingly reliant on cutting edge technology, law enforcement must also make use of technology to make sure they are combating crime as effectively as possible. The case is closed on that discussion.

For information on our feature-rich and affordable ICM and MCM technologies, please visit Case Closed Software.

The Case for Investigative Case Management

Lost in the news of the recent demise of New Zealand based crime-fighting software developer Wynyard Group, is an interesting report published just weeks before the company ceased operations.

55According to the study, just 55% of U.S. law enforcement agencies currently utilize investigative case management software (CMS), and the majority of users are unhappy with their current systems.

Thirty-seven percent of the study respondents are not currently using any type of automated system, and rely mainly on paper files and spreadsheets to manage their investigations.

Investigative case management software has long been the domain of larger agencies and departments, and is only now truly affordable for smaller departments. The software allows investigators to manage the investigation process from start to finish. The more robust software allows agencies to assign cases and tasks, manage deadlines, store and maintain physical and multimedia evidence, and to search for relevant information across disparate databases.

According to a press release issued at the time, the survey queried users on how likely they would be to recommend their current system to another agency. While most users were unhappy with their current investigative case management system, there was a clear difference between agencies using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software and those using home grown, legacy systems. The latter fared very poorly in the survey results.

mobile_homeThe survey also measured the use of smart devices by front-line officers. Forty three percent indicated that they currently utilize smart phones and tablet computers, and 23% indicated they had neither device.

The most-desired features in investigative management software include:

  • Management Dashboards
  • Reports – Standard and ad hoc
  • Case Assignment and Reminders
  • Actions and Incident Management
  • Mobile and Front-Line Case Access
  • Evidence Management and Chain-of-Custody
  • Multimedia Handling
  • Audit Logs
  • Collaboration
  • Gangs and Organized Crime Management
  • Data Visualization and Link Analysis
  • Case Closure / Evidence Brief

An investigative case management system for law enforcement and commercial investigation agencies is rapidly becoming a ‘must-have’. In an era of shrinking budgets and competing resources, a high value is placed on getting the biggest ‘bang for the buck’. The study indicates that agencies are looking to maximize the value of their investigative case management software by incorporating a robust feature set with an affordable price.

caseclosed_50Case Closed Software, a division of Crime Tech Solutions, is a powerful and affordable investigative case management solution for law enforcement agencies. Created by former law enforcement investigators, the COTS software is designed with ease-of-use in mind. The software is deployed in agencies – large and small – across the country.

Critical Capabilities for Case Management Software? Case Closed!

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™ SOFTWARE for deployment at government and commercial investigative groups. 

  1. ccscreenshot1Investigative 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  ccscreenshot2
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.casestatistics
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

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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

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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.

About the Author

Tyler Wood is Operations Director of Austin, TX based Crime Tech Solutions (www.crimetechsolutions.com). The company develops and deploys low price / high performance software for law enforcement including Case Closed investigative case management software, sophisticated Sentinel Visualizer link analysis and data visualization software, and CrimeMap Pro advanced crime analytics. The company also develops the popular GangBuster gang database, and IntelNexus criminal intelligence software for 28 CFR Part 23 compliance.

Crime Hot Spots and Risk Terrain Modeling

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A typical ‘hot spot’ in crime analytics

By Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions.

One of the many functions crime analysis performs is the identification of “hot spots”, or geographical areas that seem to be hubs for criminal activity. Identifying these hot spots through best practices in geospatial crime mapping allows law enforcement to focus their efforts in areas that need them most. The trouble that law enforcement and crime analysts have encountered is displacement – the fact that once a hot spot is “cleared”, crime seems to pop up again in a different location. The good news is that the displacement is never 100%, so policing hot spots is important – it’s just not a magic bullet.

To solve this problem, a team at Rutgers University’s School of Criminal Justice set out to develop new methodologies that would result in peaceful outcomes that are built to last instead of merely temporary.

The difference between the old approach and the new approach is stark. Where police and analysts used to focus solely on geographical concentration of crimes, Risk Terrain Modeling examines the factors that contribute to such dense concentrations to begin with. Rutgers team have identified several characteristics of any given geographical location which may attract or generate crime. Their technology takes these characteristics, which include socioeconomic data, physical layout, types of local businesses, etc… and uses them to calculate the likelihood crime occurring in the area. This allows law enforcement to be proactive in the prevention of crime in these areas.

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Advanced crime analytics show statistically significant risk factors.

The technique seems to be highly effective. After a trial run in New Haven, CT, police were able to identify sixteen “statistically significant risk factors that underlie violent crime occurrences.” A high percentage of violent crime in New Haven during the test period occurred in locations already identified by the concept of risk terrain modeling. Though the technology is still new, it is clearly showing impressive results already.

Shutting down hot spots is important policing, and risk terrain modeling technology allows analysts and law enforcement officers to be even more proactive in their prevention of crime.

The author, Tyler Wood, is head of operations at Austin, TX based Crime Tech Solutions – an innovator in crime analytics and law enforcement crime-fighting software. The clear price/performance leader for crime fighting software, the company’s offerings include sophisticated Case Closed™ investigative case management and major case management, GangBuster™ gang intelligence software, powerful link analysis software, evidence management, mobile applications for law enforcement, comprehensive crime analytics with mapping and predictive policing, and 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence database management systems.)

Crime Tech Solutions Acquires Case Closed Software

June 1, 2016 (Austin, TX)   Crime Tech Solutions, LLC, a leading provider of analytics and investigation software for law enforcement and commercial markets, today announced that it has acquired Cleveland, TN based Case Closed Software in a cash transaction. The terms of the deal were not released, but according to Crime Tech Solutions’ founder and president Douglas Wood, the acquisition brings together two dynamic and fast-growing software companies with an unparalleled complement of technologies.
For Crime Tech Solutions, the opportunity to add Case Closed Software into the fold was too good to pass up” said Mr. Wood. “We think that the technology offered by Case Closed helps to further differentiate us in the market as the price performance leader for this type of investigative solution.PNG

Crime Tech Solutions, based in the city of Leander, TX, delivers advanced analytics and investigation software to commercial investigators and law enforcement agencies across the globe. Their solution suite includes criminal intelligence software, sophisticated crime analytics with geospatial mapping, and powerful link analysis and visualization software. The company says that the addition of Case Closed Software expands those offerings even further.

CaseClosed1Case Closed Software develops and markets investigative case management software specifically designed for law enforcement agencies. The suite is built around four primary software products including best-in-class investigative case management software, property and evidence tracking, a gang database tool, and an integrated link analysis and data visualization tool.

Case Closed couldn’t be happier than to be joining Crime Tech Solutions,” said Keith Weigand, the company’s founder. “The blending of our technologies creates a suite that will add tremendous value to our mutual customers, and will be hard for others to duplicate.

According to both Mr. Weigand and Mr. Wood, the name Case Closed will continue on as the product brand, given its widespread popularity and loyal customer base. Crime Tech Solutions is expected to retain all Case Closed employees, with Mr. Weigand joining as the company’s chief technical officer.

Crime Tech Solutions says it expects continued growth via ongoing software sales and strategic acquisitions.

About Crime Tech Solutions

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. Our offerings include sophisticated Case Closed™ investigative case management and major case management, GangBuster™ gang intelligence software, powerful link analysis software, evidence management, mobile applications for law enforcement, comprehensive crime analytics with mapping and predictive policing, and 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence database management systems.)