Pennsylvania, FBI share crime data

Pennsylvania, FBI share crime data

'We can transmit secure information between agencies, and JNet could easily be used to do the same between different levels of government.'

When the call came for cooperation among government law enforcement officials after Sept. 11 and the anthrax strikes, some state and local agencies were ready to take part immediately.

Three days after United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Pittsburgh, Somerset County law enforcement officers gave the FBI a photo of a terrorist suspect's driver's license that was pulled from Pennsylvania's integrated Justice Network system.

'There was a buzz as soon as the FBI got a copy of the terrorist's driver's license photo,' said Linda Rosenberg, JNet director. 'It provided immediate help because the FBI was able to get the photo out to other law enforcement officials and obtain more information about him.'

A few weeks later, Pennsylvania State Police used JNet to help the FBI track down another suspected terrorist who was already in a state prison.

JNet was designed to help state law enforcement agencies share information but also can be valuable to federal investigators.

JNet is extremely important in terrorist or security investigations, said Martin Horn, secretary of Pennsylvania's Administration Department. 'We can transmit secure information between agencies, and it easily could be used to do the same between different levels of government.'

Pennsylvania's IT Office, Administration Department and State Police hired KPMG Consulting Inc. of McLean, Va., to develop the $56 million system. The state received $2 million from the Justice Department this year to expand the program to other local jurisdictions.

JNet's Web interface lets more than 2,800 authorities search police, parole, probation, corrections and motor vehicle databases at the state and local levels. Statewide deployment is scheduled to be completed by 2004.

JNet shows all information no matter how it is formatted in HTML through a Web browser.

Built to adapt

'Searches are done using a program written in Java to query relational databases,' said Dave Woolfenden, JNet's lead architect. 'If the system is not on a relational database, we built adapters so the systems could be searched.'

JNet also uses a public-key infrastructure developed by VeriSign Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., that lets agencies use digital certificates to access information and send secure messages.

Cooperation between the state police and the FBI is not uncommon. Federal officials regularly use JNet to track suspects. The FBI used the system to catch a burglary suspect in Boston and another terrorist suspect in New York.

Horn said JNet is a useful model for nationwide law enforcement integration. 'I could envision a system in which the JNet architecture could integrate databases for the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, Coast Guard, Customs and Immigration, as well as state and local systems,' Horn said. 'This type of relationship is needed now more than ever.'

In fact, Horn said, federal authorities discussed JNet's architecture with officials from other states as well as law enforcement authorities from Germany, the Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

'The great thing about JNet is agencies don't have to modify their current systems,' Rosenberg said. 'Back-end databases are left alone, and everything goes through the Web interface.'

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