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.