HxGN RadioPodcast

Public Safety Now: The evolution of RMS

Public safety records management standards, data sharing and interoperability, and public reporting and transparency. Listen as we discuss the evolution of RMS with leaders from the Integrated Justice Information Systems Institute.

JW : Hi, and thanks for tuning in to Public Safety Now on HxGN Radio. I’m your host, John Whitehead, Vice President of Sales for U.S. Public Safety here at Hexagon’s Safety and Infrastructure division. We’ve got a couple great guests here today. We’re going to be talking about an awesome topic, which is police records management. This is one of those things that’s kind of been around for a long time, everybody knows that the police have to fill out their reports and make reports on all the incidents that they go to. But the importance of that in today’s world is really what we’re going to be focusing on. I’ve got Maria and Melissa here with me, both of them are from IJIS. Most of you have probably heard of the IJIS Institute, or if you haven’t, listen up. Because there’s some great things that IJIS is doing. They’re a nonprofit alliance, they’ve been working to push the technology, push everything similar to that and the newer protocols into the public sector and really just help us get safer and more efficient as we do our jobs. Maria, Melissa, welcome and Good Morning.

MW: Thank you.

MC: Good morning, John. Thank you so much for having us.

JW: Yeah, this should be a great conversation. Like I said, I’m interested in talking about police records management. It’s a topic that’s been around for a long time, but it’s definitely something I think that all of our … everyone listening here to this podcast is familiar with. I think there’s some exciting things that we can talk about. But before we do, Maria, why don’t you introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about what you do there at IJIS.

MC: Absolutely. My name’s Maria [Cardiellos], I’m the Executive Director for the organisation. I’d like to … besides telling you that my personal background is one that is rooted in the public sector space. I spent nearly 40 years on the public safety side, justice, data sharing both on the public and private sides. I’ve had the luck, and the opportunity to serve not only as the executive director, but serve in key roles within the organisation. I was the Chief of Staff for the nationwide SAR Initiative. That’s the Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative that we’ll actually chat about a little bit later, as well as serve as the CIO for the Department of Law and Public Safety in the state of New Jersey. The reason I bring that up is that even though I come from the public sector side, I did spend time on the private sector side. And IJIS is about both. IJIS has a 20-year history, we were actually incorporated unfortunately soon after 9/11. But we had roots in the community before then, forming partnerships between public and private and making sure that we, the private sector at that point, were responsive to the needs of the industry and of the public sector bodies that served and protected our nation. What is typical then, and what is typical now, is that the challenges that hit us from an operational side are changing every single day. They get more comprehensive, they get more burdensome. And data, or RMS systems as you made reference to, become even more important. So, know that IJIS is formed in order to make sure that the collaboration between public and private remains opened, remains an ongoing dialogue, and addresses the evolution of needs over time.

JW: You said that IJIS got started around 9/11 and after that. But it’s one of those things where it feels like you guys have been around forever. I mean, as impactful as IJIS is in the community, it’s just a name that feels like it’s been around for a long time. And your career definitely puts you to where you’re going to be a great representative of this topic I think here today. Melissa, how about you? You want to tell us a little bit about yourself?

MW: Sure. Hope everyone’s doing well today. My name’s Melissa [Winesburg]. I am the Director of Programmes for the IJIS Institute. My background is about 30 years in law enforcement and criminal justice. I originally started my career developing the NIBRS Programme for the state of Ohio. From there, I started working on integration of criminal justice information systems exactly around the time of 9/11. Worked with the state of Ohio to try to eliminate many of the silos in our criminal justice information systems. Went from there to do work at the Criminal History Repository helping with automated fingerprint identification systems and instant identification in the field. And then I moved on to private sector, working for an organisation that manages records management system and crime reporting repositories, and found myself landing with the IJIS Institute last November and I really enjoy it. I have to say that having been part of the IJIS Institute from the practitioner and public sector perspective gives me a very interesting view. One of the things I will say is that coming from private sector, I just was pretty much our only entry into being able to really have great conversations with both federal agencies and local criminal justice agencies to talk about policy and where we need to go in terms of information systems.

JW: Yeah, very interesting. And you know, right out of the gate, you brought up I’ll say that five letter word, that NIBRS word. As a lot of our listeners are aware, RMS has had a huge evolution over the years. Most everyone’s familiar with UCR and the statistics that UCR brings to that. But the NIBRS requirements and that change that’s been occurring over the last several years. I know for some of the agencies there’s been a little bit of angst with that. There’s been change that had to occur in their agencies. And you know Melissa, you helping roll that out in Ohio, I’m assuming you’ve got a pretty good understanding of really kind of some of what of those hurdles and as agencies are still trying to roll that out, what they’re dealing with.

MW: Yes. It’s a huge change for law enforcement. In order to collect NIBRS data, it’s been important that we move the whole process of taking reports down to the officer level. The level of information that the FBI is requesting as part of the NIBRS programme really requires more comprehensive reports to be taken. But it’s important to get that comprehensive data for greater transparency and to allow law enforcement agencies to better report to the public. We’re seeing that as this more detailed data is coming available, agencies are moving towards putting public portals online that allow the public to access crime data. And the ability to print copies of incident reports. And this has especially been important during COVID, as many departments have limited entry into their agencies. The automation of crime data is critical to allow for that access to the information.

JW: It’s allowing us and allowing the public to really kind of see that data that I find very interesting. Because I think historically, it has been reports are written, reports go into the file, reports are used maybe in legal proceedings. And sure, the reporting parties and such can have copies of that. But it’s not something that was regularly populated out, or I’m sorry, regularly published out, I think is a better word there. It’s interesting now, seeing this evolution, this data aggregation to where the data’s becoming the focus. It’s good, because now I think that awareness level is rolling out. Maria, what are some other benefits that you’re seeing of this RMS evolution over the last several years?

MC: Well, I think it’s representative of what’s happening in society, John. I mean, you look at a decade or two ago, our world is smaller, our world is faster, our world is providing us with numerous challenges that we could’ve never envisioned decades ago. When we talk about, frankly the coup of what was 9/11 with all the disaster, when we speak about the inability of sort of the generations to be able to foresee and then quickly respond to what our pandemic issues, we must be faster in our responses. And I say we deliberately in the sense that it is both a public sector and private sector responsibility. As we deal with these emerging challenges, we need to be more efficient in how we do that. And that is what IJIS’ mission is about. We are fundamentally about data sharing in all spaces: homeland, hometown, health and human services, education and transportation. But data is the asset. So, NIBRS is that representation of the last or the most recent generation that the FBI is pushing out, along with the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Because it’s taking what was a traditional form of data collection and bringing it to the forefront. The next generations, frankly, would be the way that standards help that information more fluidly and more simply go from one system to another, so that data users at all levels of government: federal, state, county and local, can actually access that data, assess that data, analyse that data, and make time sensitive operational decisions. The tools that we use, as simple as an example as having our smartphones. Nearly everyone has a smartphone today. So, you basically have a computer in your pocket. Is the change that is represented of course on the public sector side, so that they, too, want to be at their desktops or at their mobile devices and be able to access data quickly, in order to make an efficient decision. Standards, functional standards, open standards, interoperability are all buzzwords, keywords, but critical words in how that data needs to be shared nationally, how that data needs to be shared internationally, how that data needs to be transported between disparate systems in an efficient manner.

JW: The word that keeps coming up to me is this transparency. And I know sometimes we even over-use that word, right? But it’s taking that data and getting it out to those that can utilise that data effectively. I mean, what I love about the IJIS Institute is that, and you have already mentioned this, Maria. But it’s that public and private. So, you’re not just focusing on just one of those verticals, you guys are looking to touch on both of them. I think that that’s important. Because I think what it does is it shows that … I remember years ago, going online, this is probably even before smartphones became the rage. But going even online and looking at an area map when we were deciding to move. And what was the crime rate and what was the traffic levels and the population and the schools? And all those things that you would go in and just find out before you made a move. That was really my first kind of glimpse into this world of looking at that type of data. Gosh, that was several mile high view of that data. But now, I mean now I’ve seen organisations … I mean, you guys brought this up a little bit ago, where they’re publishing out statistics and information to where the public sector can actually look and see what’s going on in their neighbourhood today. What’s going on in their world today? And that level of transparency I think is good for all of us. I think it makes for a more intelligent community, which in turn, should help crime rates and should help keep people, just that awareness just kind of help keep people aware of what’s going on.

MC: You’re exactly right, John. And it’s interesting, first of all, I would see the partnership between public and private as IJIS’ critical success factor. That is our differentiator, that is our secret sauce, that is our component that puts us frankly above the rest. And it’s not to say that we don’t have absolutely critical partners that come to our table and ensure our collective success. But that is what makes us unique. And you make reference to the maps. You bring back a memory, because my career actually started at Newark P.D., Newark, New Jersey P.D. as a crime analyst. What you were making reference to, to understand a potential jurisdiction that you were moving in and finding out the different patterns or factors is what I used to do manually. And yet decades later, or what seems like minutes later, we have at our fingertips. Transparency is not only about the availability of data, but the access of data to respond to the question that needs to be asked. And I’ll go one step further. The notion of the data availability has to be responsive to the priority at hand. And the priority today for example, is justice reform. Whatever channel you turn onto, whatever newspaper you open, there are different either jurisdictions, states, nationally, internationally speaking about the need to reform how we do business. And that could be on a process side, on a technology side, on a policy side. All things that we do, because you can’t have one without the other. But it’s about being able to address the priority which addresses our nation.

JW: Yeah. Yeah. And I think you’re right, I think that the overall value of just getting this data out there is what’s key. I mean, I just … Now, today, I mean even as simple as, we brought up the smartphone. As we’re driving down the road … it just happened to me the other day, my smartphone tells me, “We know you’re going from point A to point B. And oh, by the way, there’s a vehicle accident and traffic is now backed up.” And it automatically reroutes. As simple and as everyday as that becomes, think about the data that’s being pushed out. And now when we start looking at some of the other incidences going on, it doesn’t have to just be big crime that makes the news. Those, everybody’s aware of. But I’m just talking about the day to day intelligence that we can share with the public. Again, how much time has officers spent out diverting traffic, diverting public away from an incident and getting that audience kind of available … Giving this data out to that audience to me is a huge win. It should hopefully make our lives a lot easier overall, as that awareness level goes up.

MC: And it makes the community feel more like our partner, especially in the public safety example, than our targeted audience. I use the term targeted deliberately, right? They need to feel like this is a partnership from one side to the other and that we are doing things for our collective benefit within our communities.

JW: Well, we’ve all been there and had a member of the public either in person or by phone tell us, “I pay your salary, I pay taxes.” And have that discussion. Normally it’s one of those that you hang up with or walk away from and you just kind of say, “Well yep, there’s another one that told me that.” But in this case, we’ve got great examples now of yeah, you absolutely do. And here’s why we need you to help partner with it. I want to turn though a little bit. Because we talked about those external players, but there’s some other benefits as well. I mean, a good records management system, interagency collaboration and utilising that data across, within our own. Man, the benefits that I’m seeing there has just been amazing. I mean, I know that you’ve got … Just take a county, a regular county across the U.S. here, there’s numerous policing agencies. And you know, this bad element or as I like to call, Joe Dirt bag comes into a county and wants to start causing trouble sometimes. And years ago, the easiest way would be, “I don’t need to do anything twice in the same jurisdiction, let me just start up north and then I’ll go down south and they won’t even know that I did anything up north.” This interagency collaboration is really what I’m seeing. This data sharing amongst our own is really beneficial is what I also see.

MC: And I think that that represents what was done historically very efficiently, and still done in all agencies in all states. The community of justice in general is a small one. So, regardless of what side of the table you’re on, we keep seeing each other. And I say that because the relationships of trust is what enables the relationships of data trust. It was okay to share with your neighbour because there are no boundaries, and now there are no borders and now the cars allows us to go not only a couple miles, but now we’re going 20 miles or 50 miles or 100 miles. And our transgressions, if I’m a criminal, can be anywhere and everywhere. But the trust that was enabled because of the personal relationships is what IJIS and interoperability and technology enables from a data sharing and system perspective. We work on, and Melissa could tell you a little bit about functional standards for RMS and what that means. It takes disparate systems and brings them to the middle of the road in order for data that is approved to be shared, you still have to have your policy issues addressed, you still have to have your operational issues addressed, you still have to have all of the trust factors. But the interoperability from a technical perspective is addressed best from a functional standard. Maybe we could have Melissa chat a little bit about that.

JW: Yeah, I think so. Because I know Melissa, we spoke before we started this discussion here, IJIS is about to release an RMS functional standard documents, correct? Can you give us a little sneak peek into what that is?

MW: Sure. The document is very important for both practitioners and law enforcement. The development of the functional standards has been a joint effort between IJIS and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Both groups have been working for the last two years to update a document that was last created in 2009, that really … the purpose of it is to outline the functional standards that should be included within an RMS. From that perspective, as the committee has worked, I think it’s important to point out that the committee has included both practitioners and law enforcement agencies. These two groups have been able to come together and have a conversation regarding what the important components are of an RMS and what should be completed in an RMS. Some of the key differences that you’ll see from the 2009 document really focus on the advancements in technology and the changing practises in record keeping. The changes related to the use of cloud computing and the movement to SaaS solutions. There’s a greater focus in the standards on security and auditing of RMS systems, which are key components as we think about transparency and bringing information to the public. We focus more on the use of standards, which are critical to promoting information sharing, such as the use of name standards, the use of NIBRS. Cleary reporting for colleges and universities, and local, regional and state interfaces and also a key component in the document. We can no longer tolerate information systems silos. One of the things that we focus on in the document is the need to interface with systems such as the local court system, jail management systems at the local level, and also regional systems that flow information to systems such as LINKS or the RJIS system in San Diego. As well as federal interfaces such as Index, suspicious activity reporting and NIBRS. The document really focuses on single point of entry systems, automating workflows to make things easier for the law enforcement agency, as reports have to flow through the process and approval process.

JW: Wow. I mean, even some of those connections and taking that data, and I’ll use your words, out of that silo. The importance of that. I know people that are listening to this podcast, if they’re into listening to other podcasts like myself, a lot of us listen to the crime type of podcast. I’m a huge fan of Crime Junkies, for example. And when I listen to some of these things, and this won’t be foreign to a lot of people. When I listen to it, it’s amazing to me, as we listen to some of the incidents that have occurred in the U.S., how if only we communicated better, some of those things could’ve been alleviated. Some of the crime could’ve been alleviated. Or the bad guy could’ve been caught a lot earlier. Because we didn’t have that communication. Even on adjoining jurisdictions, we weren’t sharing that data. You bring up that silo point. To me, having that in just a siloed records management system is a detriment. It’s just not something that we can continue doing. I love that you guys are releasing this functional standards doc to kind of get people thinking that way. That says, “Hey …” You brought it up, putting this stuff in the cloud, one great step to being able to get that data out there. Integrating it and interfacing it to those other systems that are national systems, man, that’s important. Because I think you’re right, Maria, you brought this up a little bit ago. I can get in my car and within a few hours I can be in multiple states. It’s no longer the case where it’s you’ve got to plan for a long trip. I mean, you can just jump in the car and be all across the U.S. pretty quickly. The people that can jump on an aeroplane and be from here to there in just a couple of hours. I mean, these things are moving, and they’re moving all around. And keeping that data out there and getting that data out there to where we can all be a little more educated and understanding. And now, when we run a person or we run a suspicious plate or we run something that’s going on, we’re getting that data. And we’re getting it from the right place.

MC: John, just let me interject here and offer a perspective. You made reference to the data being available. What’s important to note is that the data being available is only accessible by authorised users. When we make reference to interoperability or to data standards, what we are ensuring and facilitating is that the data is available to the end users that have the permissions to access the data. A couple of examples: in most law enforcement agencies you not only have what is of course your police at the agency site, you may have a real-time crime centre, which is a gathering of individuals from disparate organisations or disparate functions that are sharing data and collectively responding to an incident. Or you may have a fusion centre at a state level and/or a major metropolitan are that then looks at the bigger picture of activities or priorities from a state perspective. What is important to note that at any and all of those access points, the policies of data availability, whether it’s privacy related, whether it’s ownership related, whether it’s approval related are very distinct policies that affect the access of that information. That may mean that if I’m at a fusion centre in New Jersey and I’m tapping what is a solution, like the nationwide SAR Initiative, that then enables me to be able to find out whether a person of interest is out there and what’s happening with them on my borders. If my border of New York said that I could access that information, then I’m able to see it instantaneously. If my border of PA says that, “No, I need them to call us about this particular individual because I’m not putting it out there for everyone in our working community to understand.” Then they will need to call us. And that is based upon who owns the data, where the source data is coming from, and what policies guide and govern that information. Always know that in any of the solutions that either IJIS, or that frankly succeed on a national or international basis, it’s not just about the technology, it’s never just about the technology. It is about the operational mission, it is about the agreement of access and data ownership, it is governed by the policies that we either have nationally or statewide or locally, which is why we have conversations about what those are given what programme we’re working on. It is about the training about how we then roll these programmes out. Because people need to know those type of things or need to have the cheat sheet to find that real-time crime operator. I don’t need to know what’s going on in my next-door state, but I need to know the activities that I’m allowed to access or not. And then, it’s ensuring that the technology crosses and creates those bridges for us. If I’m able to see it, I have it accessible. If I’m not able to see it, I’m told that I need to call person X.

JW: By no means are we saying put your data in and just open up the floodgates and just put all that information out there. I think that that is key, Maria. I think that you’ve got to be able to understand what data can be put out there. And then to your point, it could be as simple as if that data comes up, it flags someone to even make a phone call. And I think that that’ll give a level of security and maybe a level of comfort to our agencies that says, again, I’ll start how I just started this, by no means are we saying just open it all up. Just whatever you’ve got in there, you need to data share. No, that doesn’t have to be the case. I think it’s that level of awareness at the very least that says, “Hey, heads up, whatever made that flag, you need to give us a call. We have some information that we need to share here.” And I think that that’s a great point that we need to make. That this is not just a carte blanche type of atmosphere where we think we should open this up to everybody. But let’s give it to the right people with the right security clearance that can get into that data and then make some knowledgeable actions after that step.

MC: Absolutely. And I will add too, is that years ago in the different generation of technology, there were the concepts of the central databases. Right? So, just let’s throw everything in there and then pull out what is allowable. Today, for security reasons, even cyber security reasons, that is nowhere near the preferred choice. We’d rather individual owners of data or sources of data manage and control their own authorities, and then our joint permissions allow us to access that front porch, as we used to make reference to in certain programmes. You allow what you want us to be able to see on your front porch, I go to your front porch to be able to query those data elements that we agreed to.

MW: Maria, this is critical, because even though we need to share information, law enforcement still has an obligation to protect the victim, to protect juveniles, to ensure that that information isn’t getting out there, that is really information that needs to stay within the agency that is private and could impact a person’s security in the long run.

MC: Absolutely.

JW: Yeah. And that’s key, right? Because I don’t believe … Here’s the good news. Some of the tools, some of the techniques that you guys are talking about in these recommendations. Melissa, in your standards document, for example, again, you’re not just going in there and saying, “Make all this data available.” But I think you hit on some key points. There’s victim data, there’s juvenile data, there’s information in our reports that should not be disseminated out, that should not be released. And that data is sensitive and we need to understand that and continue understanding that. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not data there that can’t be shared to help apprehend maybe the bad guy and try to get that person that’s caused that report to even be done in the first place. And making sure that we walk that fine line, and I think with groups like IJIS, continue with the federal level, the CJIS certifications and things. Making sure that the right eyes are on the right information whenever it’s necessary. I want to transition. Maria, you talked a little bit about this and you just barely touched on it. As I look at records management overall, so I’m familiar with fire records management, for example. You’ve got your NFIRS standards and you put that information in. I’ll say for the most part across the U.S. it’s a standard. Fire departments put that information in. On the police side, that’s different. You’ve got every city, county, state, tribe, local. You name it, everyone’s doing it where yep, they’ve got their UCR or now their NIBRS rules that they know that they’ve got to collect. But then all of those different verticals that I just mentioned seem to have their own required rules and their own required data. How do we get standards in police records management across the U.S., but still allow an agency to meet their own needs?

MC: Well John, I think that speaks to interoperability and what the potential represents. Interoperability is not about point-to-point communication. It’s about standardisation to the middle of the road. What that means is if you are an RMS in Newark and an RMS in Montclair, and I’m using Jersey examples because this is where I live. We are able to communicate. However, it’s not about then sharing with the rest of the 500 or more municipalities in my state. We need to do things efficiently. That’s the reference to the standards, but there’s two issues to speak to. If you use the analogy of a plug, of an electrical outlet when you go to a hotel, when you’re travelling nationally, you know that your blow dryer’s going to work. When you’re going to the United Kingdom, when you’re going to France, when you’re going to other nations their ability to be able to let us use our blow dryers has yet to be realised. We have all the adaptors. But imagine that standards are the adaptors. To that end, knowing that standards is the goal of not only crossing RMS to RMS, but RMS police to RMS fire, and then even further, fire to emergency management or emergency providers in general. The issue becomes two-fold. Imagine them running in parallel. We need to align the operational issues and the operational needs, and then we need to align the technology data sharing. In your reference about the fire and the police sharing, we need to ensure that either they’re joint municipalities, or that they have mutual aid agreements, or that they are coming in for an operational purpose that does not contradict each of the source agencies. To that end, how we do that from a data perspective makes references to the interoperability that the functional standard was an example. But the functional standards are not only representative of RMS to RMS, but CAD to RMS, and domain to domain. It’s about that middle of the road and the ability to come to the central area in order to access the agreed upon data.

JW: I think that’s an important comment there. Because I think what everybody hears when they start talking about data sharing and collaboration is one standard that everybody has to deal with. I like your analogy of the adaptor. Because it says whether you’re on the metric system or the standard system, you’re going to be able to still share the data out there. And I’ll bring this back to this topic, it’s basically making sure that listen, that city and county can still allow their personnel to collect the data that meets their needs. But that middle of the road and making sure that the data sharing model is happening is getting some of that data that’s out there, that everyone is collecting. Because it’s usually … I’ve never seen an agency that collects less. I mean, the UCR and NIBRS standards say you will at least collect this, this, these points of data. That right there could be the middle of the road. As IJIS rolls out their functional standards doc and these standards can kind of become the norm, it’s getting that data out there, that can be shared, is what we’re saying is the important part.

MC: Right, John. And I’ll add a couple of points. First of all, the more data is usually handled in more tools, which on the one hand is beneficial to the single agency, but on the other hand is one more tool that we need to interoperate with. And on the notion of the investments made by individual agencies, that’s a critical point to focus on. Interoperability is not about saying that this single standard is the way that everyone should travel to. Because sometimes that represents something that I can’t do with my current tool. I as an agency, as a municipality, as a state, none of us have the wherewithal to be able to trash our investments and start from scratch. So, interoperability by its definition is about re-utilising your current investments and being able to progress to that centre and that middle point of communication. It’s not about rip and replace.

JW: That’s a great point, and I think it’s an important point. Because this topic immediately brings up I think some fear that I may not have the same tool as you, I may not have the same technology as you. And I think whether you’re in a major metropolitan or you’re out in rural America, this kind of puts a balance across there, that says we could all be data sharing together and it doesn’t really matter. Let’s focus on the adaptors, let’s focus on getting that information out there and make sure that people are in the know when it comes to understanding this a little bit better. As we kind of wrap this up here, where do we see this going? I’ve asked other guests before, bring out your crystal ball and kind of look. What’s next or on the horizon for records management?

MC: I’ll answer that question and then toss it to Melissa because I think we each come from two different perspectives that are complementary. I think that given my operational background, RMSs are going to need to be more flexible, more diverse, and more responsive to the ever-changing needs. As we have a current priority of reform within the justice community, only as an example, because there are so many others, our providers, our service providers need to be able to adapt in an efficient manner. Efficiency is the challenge that we are grappling with. On the one hand, you have what are federal guidelines that could come out like the UCR to NIBRS. You also have use of force requests, you also have sex assault reporting, you also have domestic violence reporting. You have all different requirements that are coming down from the feds, from your states, from your jurisdictions, from your city halls. At the end of the day, if a given city gets a request, it’s usually the mayor’s office that’s asking for something instantaneously. All of those enquiries that are legitimate and authorised must be done so in a manner that can be fluid and can be responsive in an efficient manner. Efficiency from the IJIS standpoint is one that we hope to realise in an even greater manner than beyond interoperability. What we are chatting about with our members is constituent management issues for RMS providers and what does that mean? Typically we’ve had 20 years of public sector coming to IJIS and saying, “Could you get your RMS providers or CAD providers or analytics providers together because we want to ask them some questions.” And that has been effective. But as the world gets bigger and as the needs get more diverse and the volumes increase, we see that RMS as an example, maybe an initial example, is one where managing the constituency and forming their own governance and forming their own communication body and forming their own centralised working groups will enable them to have IJIS facilitate communication, working meetings, roadmap discussions either individually or collectively with those procurers of data. Right? Let’s go to the examples that the feds, FBI, BJS, any of the acronyms, ICE, DHS, ICE right now dealing with border issues say that we need this type of information and I need it for provider A and for provider B and provider C. Well, we could all read the headlines if I’m provider A, B and C, and figure out what’s coming next. But it would be so much more efficient if there was better communication and regular communication between the requesters of information and the responders at the service provider levels. Because not only I could make intelligent decisions about how my developers need to ready the technology for those enquiries and do so in manners that protect the data, secure the data, access the data, aet cetera. But if we were able to do so collectively, that’s an even better picture. Because now consider that we have agencies that we sometimes refer to as the have agencies. They have the wherewithal financially to have the RMS, to have the analytics packages, to have all of the different bells and whistles. But then we have the have-nots. Their need is no less, their desire to protect their constituency and their citizens is no less. But if we had a body such as one that manages RMS constituents or has a collective voice, we might actually be able to afford the opportunity of cloud solutions, like Melissa made reference to, that then enables those have-not agencies to share in the wealth in a cost efficient fashion that protects all their policy issues, ops issues, and argument … Excuse me, organisational issues that are so critical to them. That’s what’s on our horizon. But that’s one of many issues that we are addressing.

JW: Interesting. And Melissa, how about yourself?

MW: As I think about this, we need to look for ways that we can continue to modernise how we collect crime data and crime statistics. As we all know, data changes, crime patterns or trends change. We as a nation don’t have a good methodology for quickly updating our collection processes to allow for us to focus on new crime patterns, new standards and new data collection methodologies. Take UCR for example. The summary based UCR collection system started in 1930. The FBI just sunsetted that system in January of 2021. So, for 90 years as a nation, we were virtually following the same methodology for reporting crime. We’ve moved to NIBRS and it’s definitely a huge step forward. But even that crime reporting standard is already 30 years old, even though we’ve just started as a nation to move forward on that particular view of crime. Whatever process we land on in terms of crime reporting in the future and modernisation, it’s important that we adopt methodologies that are easier for the officer on the street, that allow us to continue to create realistic pictures of crime and increase the accuracy of reporting and betting understand the impact that crime has on our victims. If you think about crime and how agencies report data, many agencies tend to focus on incidents or cases. We really need to rethink that process and start to focus on the person as we collect that data and collect crime statistics. We need to do that not only from a law enforcement perspective, but from criminal justice as a whole. If we start to focus on the person rather than cases and incidents, it might just give us a better understanding of what’s happening and better information and data to help us prevent crime and provide necessary services that can help to reduce crime in the long run. Most importantly, as we modernise crime statistics, we need to figure out a better way to manage the reporting of changing trends in crime and reducing the cost of maintaining RMS systems for crime reporting. Law enforcement agencies work on a limited budget and they don’t have the funds to pay for continual updates to satisfy crime reporting requirements. So, we have to work through this process as a community, both from a private sector and a practitioner perspective, to figure out how we modernise collection of crime statistics so that we can easily adapt those systems to the changing trends.

JW: Yeah. We’ve definitely … I’m looking forward to this, as this continues and this evolution keeps moving forward. It’s that agility and it’s to be able to be quicker and a little more well-educated as we’re handling these incidents on a day to day basis. Not only will this make the public safer, but I think it’s going to overall make officers’ lives easier, make their job a little bit safer and really just get the right information into the right hands. It’s interesting to see and hear about the evolution that we’ve had, but it’s just as interesting to hear about where we’re going to go and what the adventure ahead kind of looks like. Well, we’re running out of time here, so we’re going to wrap this up. I definitely have been on the IJIS, I-J-I-S.org website. But I want to pass it over to you guys if you can. If anyone’s listening here and they’re not a member or they want to become a member of IJIS, can you give our listeners a little bit of what they can do to become part of the group?

MC: Absolutely, thank you, John. First of all, I would encourage everyone to go to that website. I will tell you, we are in a state of transition because we’re looking to make even that smoother in its messages and defining our value. But if you go back to how we started talking about our roots being in a public private partnership that is our critical success factor, I would encourage both public sector members or practitioners, as well as private sector service providers to join our organisation. It’s very difficult in the short time that we had today, to be able to speak to all of the services that we provide and all of the opportunities that exist for new services to be provided to both our public sector or private sector constituency. I would encourage all to spend a little time on the website, reach out for any one of us at any time. And most importantly, join and engage. Interestingly enough, the public sector membership rates, and I’ll speak a little bit about the housekeeping, is free. We’re not looking for a great profit here. We’re looking for engagement. And frankly, the private sector membership is very moderate. We are in this mission space in order to commit and in order to serve our public sector operations. I would encourage all to join and become active.

JW: That’s great information. I don’t think that anyone would be disappointed. Go to that website, there’s a lot of good information out there and a lot of things that you can dig into. And then I think the overall message is get involved. Right? I mean, it’s one thing to listen to these kind of conversations and kind of hear what’s going on, but man, just get involved is probably how I would end that. And just say that this is a great organisation to be part of. Maria, Melissa, I can’t thank you enough. Maria, you just mentioned a little bit about, we didn’t even touch on a lot of the topics and a lot of the things that IJIS does. I’d love to have you guys back and maybe we can go into different topics here in the future and some things that are relevant to our listeners. But once again, thank you guys for this great conversation. I’m looking forward to see how RMS changes as we continue on in this adventure. To hear additional episodes or learn more, visit us at HxGNSpotlight.com and thanks for tuning in.