Program Case Study
The Internet is an invaluable resource for community safety, because it provides public access to information on justice-related issues within communities and throughout the United States. Many law enforcement practitioners have embraced the Internet and made information widely available, allowing access to considerable justice-related data for their jurisdictions.
Currently, there are many websites available to the law enforcement community that provide data and information of interest to criminal justice practitioners. Many in the law enforcement community, however, may not be aware of the availability of these resources. Further, to search through the vast amount of data available, law enforcement practitioners have to spend considerable time accessing and conducting searches on individual sites. Access to all of the databases through a single access point would greatly benefit the law enforcement community and allow for the most efficient search functionality and data retrieval.
The creation of a law enforcement information sharing portal to provide a single access point would benefit the entire criminal justice community by allowing for more efficiency, effectiveness, and cost savings. The ability of law enforcement to query multiple resources with a common term from a unified interface will deliver a more comprehensive view regarding the search criteria.
The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) is an example of the success that a single access point for searching multiple resources can provide. Prior to the NSOPW, many states had their own sex offender registry systems. However, to conduct a comprehensive search of registered sex offenders, it was necessary to conduct searches on the individual websites of the respective states and territories.
In 2005, when NSOPW was launched, the public had real-time access to information on sex offender registries throughout the United States and select territories. NSOPW provides an efficient and effective resource to identify registered sex offenders nationwide through a single search from any computer with Internet access. The NSOPW has proven to be an extremely successful and well-used resource since its launch. The success of the NSOPW demonstrates the value of providing a single access point for searching databases to law enforcement practitioners and the public alike.
The Internet has revolutionized the accessibility of information, and in a relatively short amount of time, it has evolved exponentially. Advances in technology, which make vital information available via the Internet, have provided the law enforcement community with a cost-effective tool. Using available technology to integrate existing resources will provide law enforcement professionals with expanded access to information that will aid in current investigations and could help prevent future criminal activity.