Chicago Police Department Uses IT to Fight Crime, Wins Grand CIO Enterprise Value Award 2004

By Richard Pastore
Sun, February 15, 2004

CIO — Chicago’s West side, the Shakespeare District, North Campbell Avenue, three blocks from Division, Wednesday night, November 19. Unmarked police cruiser unit 8i responds to a 9:06 p.m. dispatch. Violation of protection order.

The cruiser pulls up to a two-story brick house. Several women stand watching on the sidewalk and neighboring stoops. Several men are walking on the other side of the street, and two are hanging out in front of a store, also watching.

One of the women, Veronica, tells Sgt. Greg Hoffman that her estranged husband, ordered by the court to keep his distance, tried to approach her. He was wearing a hat for disguise. "He never wears a hat," Veronica tells Hoffman. He took off in a truck with friends, she says, pointing out one of her husband’s associates who stayed behind, a tall man wearing red sweats. Another patrol car pulls up, and officers round up the men across the street, including the man in red. The men stand, spread-eagled against a stockade fence, detained by Hoffman and Assistant Deputy Superintendent Ron Huberman.

After the cops pat them down and start asking them about Veronica’s husband, Huberman uses the patrol car’s touch-screen notebook (one of 2,000 outfitted in Chicago Police cars) to run Veronica’s address. He touches "send," and less than five seconds later, four incident reports dating back to early 2003, mined from the department’s relational database, appear on screen. Domestic battery. Two cases of violating a protection order. A suspiciously parked car. Veronica’s abusive husband doesn’t seem to know how to stay away. He also doesn’t know that tonight’s incident will join 8.5 million others in the CLEAR (Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting) system, the Chicago Police Department’s unique enterprisewide relational database.

Why the CPD Won the Grand CIO Enterprise Value Award

This violation isn’t the most serious crime reported tonight. There are gang wars going on in the Shakespeare and several of the other 25 districts the police use to carve up Chicago’s 228 square miles. But violating a protection order is a deadly warning sign. Four nights earlier, suspected domestic violence left 19-year-old Alia Chavez dead of a stab wound in her basement apartment on North Rockwell.

That’s one reason the officers questioned the men against the stockade fence. They were collecting physical identification and contact data on serially numbered "contact cards" that will be entered into the database and cross-referenced with known associates-including Veronica’s husband. Now, if one of these men does something wrong, the police will not only have the offender’s name and criminal history, they’ll know who he knows and who knows him.

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