Friday, March 20, 2015

Information is the lifeblood

I just read an interesting Incident Report by Officer Brad Hulse, case number B5-023247. Officer Hulse stopped a vehicle last night with one headlight out, and got an odd feeling that something more was going on then a bad bulb. Back at his patrol car, he checked the driver's information, checked the Nebraska and Missouri drivers license database, checked local police contacts and reports in the LPD database, looked up drivers license photos, as well as information and photos from the Nebraska Department of Corrections.

After a few minutes of research, he discovered why things seemed odd: the front seat passenger was wanted. He had an outstanding warrant for violating his parole release from prison for burglary. Although he tried to deflect the officer by lying about his name, Brad's hunch and his initiative resulted in the subject's return to prison.

The accolades belong not only to Officer Hulse, though, but also to all those people who worked so hard for so many years to put all that information at his fingertips. They built and maintain an incredible police records management database, mobile data network, and user interfaces that are superbly accessible to the people who need the information, right where they are. Information is the lifeblood of policing.

Last night's case is not unusual. I see similar reports regularly, where fast access to information in the field is an important factor in a dynamic investigation. This capability is a huge advantage, that we should never take for granted.


Anonymous said...

I spend a few hours during the month listening to a scanner with LPD broadcasts. I am always amazed at how quickly information is obtained and passed on to officers in the field. I am sure this capability has saved lives. This is a result of long range planning. Kudos to all involved.
Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

So let's say Ofc. Hulse's 'hunch' had turned up nothing and the guy was squeaky clean. Does a hunch give the officer the right to detain someone long enough to figure out he's not public enemy number one?

I know all of this information available at the fingertips of the police is great for officer safety, but is it really worth it to us law abiding citizens to have all of this information so readily accessible to the government?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:40...We aren't talking about which books you borrow from the library or your purchasing habits. This involves the information you give on your driver's license, car registrations, court information, etc. It is information that is produced by government agencies and has always been available. The difference here is the technology allows it to be accessed immediately instead of having to wait days to get the information to the officer on the street.

Anonymous said...

9:40 It's not all about officer safety. It's about the public's safety as well. The technology can provide helpful information when a person is in need of help but unable to communicate for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Another reason to vote FOR funding two public safety projects!

Anonymous said...

"Another reason to vote FOR funding two public safety projects!"

Funny how it was a lower priority than building an arena a few years back. Now, all of the sudden, new radios and new fire stations are all-important. Find the cash somewhere else, sales taxes are high enough.

Anonymous said...

I remember a few years back when the Devaney Center was being planned. If I remember correctly didn't a special tax on cigarettes pay for it?

What one type of business generates the biggest share of Police calls? Would Alcohol top the list maybe? Maybe adding a few cents in taxes to the cost of a drink would generate enough revenue to pay for the needed radio system.
Gun Nut

9:40 said...

I realize the public and officer safety aspect of it (duh!) but what I am asking is all of that info available that easily really worth it? What about abuses of the info? I have nothing to hide, but say, for example, Ofc. Hulse's hunch had been wrong and I am detained while he sits there and goes through my life's history, but finds nothing. What then? Sorry it took so long sir, you're free to go?

Anonymous said...

Here is some timely info that the local paper is unlikely to cover. Does that diatribe sound reasonable to you, or does your boss's party affiliation preclude your even allowing it to be posted on your blog? I'd like everybody in the state to hear that sound clip.

Anonymous said...

"what I am asking is all of that info available that easily really worth it"

So you believe such info on absconded parolees shouldn't be available to on-duty LEOs?

9:40 said...


Did I say that? Reading comprehension is a lost art. Generally, I have no problem with Law Enforcement having that info since it potentially will save an officer or the public. I'm just asking is it worth giving up our freedom to have all of that info out there to be seen and possibly be abused. We as a society have slowly given up our rights and expectation of privacy over the years because technology has made it easier.

Tom Casady said...


This has been an interesting dialogue. I, too, have some concerns about the implications of all sorts of technology. Things that would have been protected from view due to their practical obscurity can now be quickly researched in moments. While I understand your concern about detention for such purposes, in this case, the time involved is minimal.

I am probably more concerned with the proliferation of commercial access to information. I'm receiving targeted ads on websites, based on my past browsing and/or purchasing habits. An online storage service sent me an unsolicited marketing email last week that made it evident they are aware of the content of my folders, and so forth.

It bothers me just a little to think that big data in private hands can discern my favorite sandwich toppings, shoe size, driving habits, account balances, and preferences for starch in my dress shirts. It also bothers me that data brokers collect, sell, and remarket such information.

Such is life. I do not obsess about it, and I see no real solution, but it still makes me somewhat uneasy.

Steve said...

Apparently @9:40 doesn't buy the oft repeated mantra used to justify all sorts of practices that, "If it saves even one life, it's worth it." I don't buy it either, but in this regard, I think the "cost" is minimal and certainly "worth it" to use the available information technology in the effort to keep society safe from criminals. In fact, I'd be tempted to suggest that all those stopped by officers for whatever reason should be scrutinized at least enough to determine if they are wanted by police for reasons other than the one for which they were stopped. Keep in mind that officers don't just randomly stop people in the first place. You only get stopped if you've done something wrong or are suspected of some wrongdoing. How often does that happen to the average citizen; once or twice in a lifetime? You can't spare a couple of minutes out of your busy day once or twice in your lifetime? If it's more than that, I suggest you examine your lifestyle and figure out why you seem so suspicious to police. I think that as long a a police officer has someone stopped for some reason, whether it be a broken headlight or jaywalking or whatever, they ought to run a quick check on that person to see if perhaps there are warrants out for them or something like that. I'd be curious how many of out outstanding warrants might be served if our police routinely did that.

Anonymous said...

I have been pulled over by Police just once for an actual violation in 40 years. That was last summer when I made a right turn from K St onto Capital Pkwy while the No Right Turn arrow was on. I was on the motorcycle and had a passenger. I hate that light because in the past when I am on the cycle I have waited forever for the light to change. The officer that stopped me told me he would give me a verbal warning IF I didn't have any outstanding warrants ( I didn't). About two minutes later he came back and told me to have a nice day.
Even counting the time it took to get pulled over and for the officer to run his check I am sure it was faster than me sitting and waiting for the light to change.
Gun Nut

9:40 said...

Director, I started using a VPN a few years ago and a lot of that has stopped.

@Steve, I don't like the excuse 'If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about' either.

I actually don't have any problem with law enforcement having access to enough information to make sure I am who I say I am and I'm not wanted somewhere. That is as long as it's justified and I haven't been stopped because the department heads aren't requiring their officers to write a certain number of tickets a month. Common sense tells me the more contacts officer's have where they can check for wanted people, the more likely there will be less crime.

I guess the biggest concern of mine is the misuse of available information. The biggest misuse of information I have seen around the country is against the legal CCW. In most states, the fact the driver has a CCW permit is on their driver's license which can lead to abuse of power and information like this. I am in no way saying I have seen or heard of any LPD or LSO officer misusing available information. I just don't think law abiding gun owners should be allowed to be put through this type of scrutiny.