Evans County, Georgia
Increasing Interagency Coordination through Information Sharing Technology
Research Partner: Georgia Southern University (Adam Bossler, Catherine Marcum, and Michele Covington)
Police, who depend so heavily upon timely information and communication, often leave the potential benefits of new technologies underutilized. This is especially true for rural law enforcement agencies in which training is often conducted only when mandated, where no systematic effort to collect and utilize intelligence in real time exists, and formal intelligence analyst positions are rare or nonexistent. Furthermore, most of the existing knowledge on policing, including that of intelligence-led policing, has been based on the largest metropolitan departments in the country, which is problematic considering that small, local law enforcement agencies account for the largest category of police agency in the United States. In addition, little is known about implementation issues and outcome successes and failures when smaller municipalities are added as partners to an already existing intelligence-led policing operation run by a rural sheriff’s office.
Strategies and Tactics
The goal of the Evans County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) SPI is to expand existing evidence-based policing efforts to further benefit not only agencies, stakeholders, and citizens in the local area, but also other rural agencies across the county. The site plans to target two rural police departments within Evans County—Claxton and Hagan—which are like the majority of rural police departments with few personnel, few resources, and poor communications. The Evans County SPI is focusing on the following main activities:
- Improve Cross Agency Communication: The site has used several tactics to increase information at hand for timely decision-making, including an intelligence analyst, E-Roll Call (a narrative of all calls from each department for the previous night), and other electronic alerts/news – Patrol Alerts (corroborated criminal intelligence within the jurisdictions) BOLOs for wanted persons with active arrest warrants, Open Case Alert for open investigations, and Open Source Bulletins for public and private sector partners. The site is pushing intelligence information through agency-provided Blackberry devices and a join records management system (RMS), allowing for timely sharing of information, access to information when needed, and officers starting their shift with all information from previous nights or days.
- Assessment of Effectiveness of Implemented Technology: The research partner is performing several tasks to develop a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of the implemented technology.
- Develop a Model for Local/Rural Law Enforcement Agencies Nationwide: The new strategies being used will serve as a model to change the culture of local/rural law enforcement from a random, reactive culture to a proactive, intelligence-led policing culture. Each strategy and tactic that is utilized will be documented in a procedure and/or protocol and grounded in a model policy for replication.
The introduction of an Intelligence Led Policing strategy changed our world.
The Evans County Sheriff’s Office staffs a fulltime Intelligence Analyst that is responsible for proactive information analysis and sharing. Our analyst strays from the traditional investigative resource type of work to a proactive scanning to seek and identify threats from criminal elements and/or public safety and order maintenance issues afoot.
Left Image: Analyst Bryant Jones (Left) and Investigator Virgil Deloach (Right) during S.A.R.A. Meeting.
Right Image: Analyst Jones & Investigator Deloach Brief Sheriff Randall Tippins (Seated Right)
Once these threats are identified the analyst collaborates with the investigator, chief deputy and sheriff to develop tactical (short term) and strategic (long term) solutions to mitigate and/or eliminate the threat. The sheriff’s office will then use a network of collaborations of various criminal justice stakeholders, to include probation and parole. In addition, an outreach to nontraditional sources of information, in combination with information from social networks and other internet sources are gathered and analyzed. All information is integrated into our proactive and real time operations for communications outreach to all patrol and investigative resources throughout our county and neighboring counties. Our system requires 28 CFR 23 training for all officers and structured information sharing policies and procedures. Dr. David Carter’s Intelligence Program at Michigan State University provided our foundation to evolve.
As a result of our collaboration, the Evans County Sheriff’s Office, Claxton Police Department, Hagan Police Department, and Tri-Circuit Drug Task Force officers “ALL” know what has occurred before their shifts begin and have the benefit of “situational awareness” on all patrols. Issues are highlighted and pieces of puzzles are being put together to identify, prevent, disrupt, and solve crime. Neighboring local, state, and federal officers have a “one stop shop” for comprehensive information gathering.
Our intelligence analyst serves all our local agencies and produces a number of intelligence products for all officers. First, is E-Roll Call. The analyst compiles the list of all calls; with a short narrative from each department the night before then emails the document to all officers. Second, are patrol alerts, where the analyst compiles a document as to any corroborated criminal intelligence within the jurisdictions and emails the document to all officers, thus making routine patrol more meaningful and purposeful. Third, are open case alerts where information from detectives and investigators is shared with patrol regarding open investigations. Fourth, BOLO’s. These are wanted persons that have pending warrants. Fifth, open source bulletins are sent to all public and private sector partners to provide and/or solicit information to prevent and disrupt crime.
Finally, an "All Hazards" report is issued to all officers when inclement weather, dangerous incidents, or any potential public safety issue is afoot.
The Evans County Sheriff’s Office has its own “Web Based” Criminal Information data base (The Consolidated Criminal Information Depository). The system links all members of the criminal justice community together, from parole and probation to juvenile justice. Moreover, the secure system serves as an outreach to school counselors to recreation directors to capture information in a proactive fashion with the goal to prevent crime before it can ever occur. Strategic and tactical decisions made by commanders and supervisors are information and intelligence based instead of random or rooted in experience only. Agencies work in support of each other versus a fragmented self centered approach. Further, officers can “connect the dots” and see critical issues “before” they evolve into huge problems.
This “culture” of cooperation and communication can only occur once commanders “buy-in” based upon the common interest and mutual benefits realized. This can only be accomplished by open communications and working together with structured planning and preparation, ensuring all stakeholders are included and cared for during the process.
Cpl. Brandon Wall receiving intelligence products over his Blackberry device
Small town and rural law enforcement is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a jurisdiction with a population smaller than 50,000. Ninety percent of all local law enforcement in the U.S. has fewer than 50 sworn officers in their employment. Fifty seven percent of all local police agencies in the U.S. have fewer than 10 sworn officers in their employment. With 12 sworn officers we fit into this large group where the change that has so greatly benefited us may be of utility to others.
Local law enforcement is the first line defense for homeland security. The creation of a law enforcement culture where every agency talks communicates and cooperates with all local, state and federal agencies creates an environment for proactive security and protection. Moreover, state and regional fusions centers would become much more effective with the efficacy of the coordinated efforts by local, state and federal collaboration to create real time systems to feed information into the fusion center process.
Poor economic conditions starve resources, but feed crime. The 21st century will be very expensive as the ineffective and inefficient crime funnel becomes more complex and costly. Whenever the police have an opportunity to prevent or disrupt criminal activity potential victims are protected, funds for property insurance, healthcare, inmate incarceration, prosecution, public defender/judicial process are saved.
We focus on every attempt to prevent an arrest from ever occurring, from our crisis intervention training in dealing with the mentally ill to our proactive efforts to manipulate certain times, locations, offenders, and victims from ever being together for a crime to happen in the first place. We view operations from a systems wide and global stand point taking advantage of all resources available and increasing partnerships toward that end. We work with our academic partners at Georgia Southern University to become more “evidence based” and “science driven” by research of data and analysis of information every day. We utilize technology, information, cooperation, coordination, and communication to forge improved operations through informed decision making. We work to create relationships to gather the trust of citizens that will result in the gathering of information to fuel the Intelligence Cycle. We realized we had to become more educated, trained, and professional to meet the challenges of the “gathering storms” ahead. We have documented policies and procedures that we will share upon request.
Sheriff's Office, Parole, Adult Probation, Department of Corrections, and Juvenile Probation during Prolific Offender Meeting
Moreover, when the “culture” of law enforcement becomes more professional and efficient, this effectiveness and efficiency translate to greater public safety in a world where terrorism is a “real threat” both domestic and foreign.
Our citizens expect and government is responsible to insure the absolute best efforts at protecting our citizens.
We believe Intelligence Led Policing is the way to secure our future.
Hagan Police Chief Kerry Blocker (Left) Claxton Police Chief Edward Oglesbee (Center) Evans County Sheriff Randall Tippins (Right)
The research evaluation consists of three parts:
- Chronicling the successes and roadblocks of implementing technology in rural law enforcement agencies;
- Analyzing whether the technology improved communication within and among the three agencies leading to increased readiness; and
- Comparing the communication and effectiveness of these three agencies with comparison agencies in the area.
News, Video, and Media
Technologies implementation and application into functional operations
The Evans County Sheriff’s Office wanted to use “Smart Phone” i.e. I-phone or Droid technologies (The latest and greatest) to connect all Deputies and City Police Officers together for e-mail communications from a structured LISTSERV that an E-Roll Call could be sent to each officer daily. Further, Evans County wanted to send intelligence products through the LISTSERV to reach each officer “real time”.
The “smart phone” technology would enhance communications, provide access to the internet, promote safety with GPS tracking and possess applications for interpreting Spanish, seeing Doppler weather radar real time and being of meaningful utility to the deputy/officer.
The “smart phone” was a phone, GPS tracker and finder, internet portal and the functional equivalent of a portable “on person” lap top computer.
This technology would be the “cornerstone” to the intelligence led policing program by providing the means to export information to each and every officer in seconds.
We really wanted to use the I-phone or Droid technology.
The Questions we asked:
1. What do you wish to accomplish?
2. How do you envision incorporating the new technology into operations?
3. Have you consulted with the individuals that the technology will affect?
a) How they will use and apply the technology to their duties?
b) Will the technology have efficacy?
c) Was the potential for unintended consequences discussed and probabilities identified?
4. Have interoperability and sustainability issues been identified and discussed?
The Sheriff’s office and Police departments have had “southern linc” cell phones/push to talk radio as a device that they all carry on their person at all times. A culture has developed over the last 10 years among the deputies, city officers, fire, EMS and public works where they all depend heavily upon the purpose and function of this device in their duties.
The push to talk informal radio function is of great utility to all of these officers.
Southern linc is a regional provider for these communications.
The I-phone does not have a push to talk radio feature and Droid’s only push to talk application was a Motorola product that had a poor application for opening intelligence products, zooming in and reading font size. We acquired and tested three of the Droids devices with the push to talk feature and all three officers were not satisfied with the device. The operation features in combination with the push to talk was problematic for those officers that tested the device.
The only narrowly tailored requirement for any device was push to talk because of the inherit culture of the officers that depends upon that requirement. If the droids or I-phones we wanted were issued deputies and officers would retain their “southern linc” services and carry that device as a main device, thus leaving the droid or I-phone in the vehicle.
The effectiveness of the program depends upon the deputies/officers keeping the device on their person; such illustrates the importance of having one device that has the push to talk as a first priority then the other requirements such as internet, cell and GPS tracking.
As a result we purchased the Motorola 8350 I blackberry curve “Smart phone” with push to talk, internet, cell and GPS tracking. The applications for interpreting and other uses were sacrificed due to the functional and cultural requirements the blackberry could accommodate. The model “smart phone” we wanted with the latest technologies did not meet the expectations we knew we had to provide in the context of the officers work paradigm.
We were able to acquire the blackberries at no charge based upon the vendor’s service agreement.
Once new technology and another product meets our needs we can upgrade into the Droid or I-phone with the additional applications we want.
Our Georgia Southern University researchers are observing, monitoring and assessing our progression to capture information and document process.
THE LESSON LEARNED
“Like policy, technology issues should be planned from the bottom up instead of the top down” Question 3c (above) became very important in the decision making process.
John Edwards - Chief Deputy Sheriff of the Evans County Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Edwards provides a program overview.
A transcript of this podcast is available here.
Contact for program manager John B. Edwards (912) 739-0620 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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