ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO JOINSWITH ESSEX COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO UNVEILCUTTING EDGE LAW ENFORCEMENT INITIATIVE
Integrated Law Enforcement Initiative Links Essex County Sheriff’s Office, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Correctional Facility and Newark Police Department
Partnership Uses A PARIS Grant from the New Jersey Division of Records Management to Develop Standardized Reporting System that Enhances Information Sharing
Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. joined with Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino and representatives from the New Jersey Division of Archives and Records Management on Tuesday, June 15th to unveil the Integrated Law Enforcement Initiative. This cutting-edge, computerized document and information system streamlines record management and enhances information sharing among Essex County law enforcement agencies. Essex is the first county in New Jersey to develop a customized system that links law enforcement records together and standardizes record keeping.
“Essex County operates the largest criminal justice system in New Jersey, and this cutting edge technology created through the Integrated Law Enforcement Initiative will help our law enforcement community operate more efficiently, streamline record keeping, and provide easier and greater access to information,” DiVincenzo said. “This project was a tremendous undertaking that was made possible because of the cooperation of several county law enforcement agencies, the City of Newark and the State. We thank the New Jersey Division of Archives and Record Management and PARIS Grants for providing the grant dollars to make this initiative become a reality and we look forward to expanding the partnership to include our other Essex municipalities,” he added.
“There is no doubt that the PARIS grants has helped to create one of the most phenomenal projects in the State,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said. “Working together, through programs like this, we can ensure better public safety for our residents, operate a more efficient judiciary and make the job of law enforcement more efficient,” she added.
“Essex County has created a model system that will enable law enforcement to track information in real time,” NJ State Senator Teresa Ruiz said. “What is equally impressive is the amount of resources and hours of manpower that will be saved, the eco-friendly paperless system and the overall effectiveness of sharing information,” she added.
“This ground-breaking shared services initiative has created efficiencies that enable all of the county’s law enforcement offices to work in harmony. It has already proved a model for other counties to follow, in New Jersey and the whole country,” said Karl Niederer, Director of the Division of Archives and Records Management.
An integral part of law enforcement is gathering information about suspects, filing reports and keeping accurate records. This is necessary to obtain and issue warrants, build a case for prosecution and keep track of suspects who are incarcerated. Currently, every police agency has its own reporting procedures and maintains its own records, which results in a tremendous amount of paper records being created. This affects how quickly a suspect moves through the legal system because the file has to accompany the suspect and sometimes the delivery of necessary paperwork takes time.
Through the ILEI, a standardized reporting system was created for every law enforcement agency to use – from the time the local police force makes an arrest to the Sheriff’s Office verifying the identity of the suspect to the courtroom proceedings handled by the Prosecutor’s Office to the incarceration of the inmate at the Correctional Facility. The standardized reporting makes information easy to find and verify.
The Essex County Sheriff’s Office was identified as the depository for all documents. A computer infrastructure was created to link the Sheriff’s Office, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Correctional Facility and the Newark Police Department into the Sheriff’s database. Now, as a suspect moves through the legal system, law enforcement officials can easily and quickly access mug shots, reports and other information electronically. This reduces waiting time, eliminates files getting lost during delivery or being misfiled, and centralizes all information in an easy to access hub. The Newark Police Department was included in the pilot program because it is the largest municipal police department in the State. The second phase of the ILEI will include additional municipal police departments and will expand the record database to include fingerprint records.
The development and implementation of the ILEI was funded with a PARIS Grant from the New Jersey Department of State-Division of Archives and Records Management, a Federal COPS Technology Grant obtained by Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, and a grant through the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the New Jersey State Police.
The participating agencies praised the system as groundbreaking and described it as a tremendous resource that will enhance officer safety because information can be shared more easily, help identify suspects more quickly and will reduce the cost associated with duplicate hard copy reports or re-enter data into different computer systems.
For the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, the ILEI reduces the need to manually classify and store hard copies of fingerprint files, eliminates the need to retake fingerprints and mug shots that may have already been taken by the municipal police departments, and will enable personnel assigned to fingerprinting tasks to be redeployed to other law enforcement functions.
“This provides quick and easy access to a uniform template of reports, mugshots and fingerprint information that enables the Essex County law enforcement community to analyze data not only from their individual department but also their surrounding community to look for patterns and perform predictive analysis,” Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said. “Accessible from desktops, laptops or PDA’s, this technology will also enhance officer safety by putting this critical information at their fingertips. For example, local police departments, as part of Phase II, will have the ability to perform a FAST ID on an individual by using a single electronic fingerprint roll,” he added.
“State-of-the-art technology is a necessary cost of doing business in the 21st Century. It is absolutely critical when it comes to successfully prosecuting cases,’’ said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino. “The ILEI gives prosecutors powerful tools. It provides us with more complete and accurate information, thereby helping us to eliminate information gaps. By reducing the amount of time required to gather and assess information from other law enforcement agencies, it also allows us to make timely, informed decisions and to exercise due diligence when evaluating cases,” he added.’
For the Essex County Correctional Facility, the ILEI makes prisoner intake more efficient by reducing prisoner processing time and the need to transport prisoners between locations.
“We process over 30,000 inmates on a yearly basis and have hundreds of suspects entering and inmates being discharged on a daily basis. This new system will help us classify, identify and move people so we can operate more efficiently,” Essex County Corrections Director Alfaro Ortiz said. “It will enhance safety for our officers because we can learn about the histories of our inmates more easily and for our inmates because we can classify them more accurately so they are placed in the appropriate custody setting,” he added.
For the Newark Police Department, less time and costs will be dedicated to copying and delivering arrest and investigation records. The ILEI will assist Newark and other municipal police departments in fulfilling their responsibilities to provide all relevant reports to all prosecuting agencies in a timely and efficient manner. It will allow and facilitate the ability of the police departments to electronically exchange data with each other and the Prosecutor’s Office on a real-time basis. This exchange of information is not only critical in improving the efficiency of in-house day-to-day operations, but will assist greatly in the investigation and prosecution of individual cases involving multiple jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies.
“Crime has no boundaries and sharing information is critical to the job of law enforcement,” Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said. “This will provide us with the ability to easily exchange information and establish patterns. Information sharing helps to solve crimes and this technology will help us close cases,” he added.
In addition, the ILEI is being interfaced with the NJ State Police’s Data Exchange System called NJDEx. This enables participating law enforcement agencies across the State to search information on incidents, suspects, victims, vehicles, addresses and other categories.