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VANCOUVER C.R.I.M.E. SYSTEM


August 1, 2013
By Jun Min Chang

1256 words – MR

Leveraging best analytical practices with interoperable capabilities

by Jun Min Chang

(Rosenbaum, 2007).

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In his article titled , Dennis Rosenbaum provides important insight into the world of policing and how it has evolved to this day.

The current era of intelligence-led policing employs a host of strategies and tactics to combat crime. Of the resources deployed, it is arguable that crime and intelligence analysis and computer aided data mining are the keystones to the successful deployment of an intelligence-led policing model. As Rosenbaum stated, it is important that “police should learn to use technology as a tool to help achieve objectives.”

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) is one of the Canadian leaders in using intelligence-led policing methods. The C.R.I.M.E. (Consolidated Records and Intelligence Mining Environment) system has been the backbone of the VPD’s analytical services for the past decade. Analysts have had numerous successes in aiding officers and senior investigators in a variety of cases, most notably those involving serial sex offenders.

{Key players}

C.R.I.M.E. was a VPD organizational project initiated by Special Cst. Ryan Prox. As the analytic services coordinator, he was required to streamline the intelligence-led analytic process and develop methods the VPD could use to realize the full potential of crime and intelligence analysis.

Alongside Prox, database architect Jason Cheung and hardware engineer Bryan Vonk were integral to developing and deploying the system. Without the efforts of this core development team, it may never have gone online.

The successful deployment convinced other agencies to enter into a partnership with the VPD to use the system: the National Weapon Enforcement Support Team (NWEST); Criminal Intelligence Service British Columbia (CISBC); and various municipal police agencies throughout the province (i.e. Victoria, Saanich, New Westminster, Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority Police Service).

C.R.I.M.E. consists of various computer programs combined into an analytical suite and was developed in house by the VPD in partnership with venders ESRI and IBM. It essentially combines the capabilities of ESRI’s ArcGIS software and IBM’s i2 Analyst Notebook into an analytical software suite.

It runs on an IBM iBase server, which provides the necessary data handling capabilities for analysts to be able to perform their duties. The VPD built data-mart takes the data, which is pushed from the PRIME BC servers, and stores it locally within VPD’s own servers in an iBase format, allowing multi-level queries to be run.

The system allows proactive analysis of crimes and criminal events to predict and prevent future incidents. It also addresses many of the technological, business and analytical shortcomings that existed with PRIME BC and SIUSS.

The system was purpose built for the need to mine intelligence from the wealth of information stored on the multitude of data servers at the VPD’s disposal, including CABS (computer aided booking system) and CAD (computer aided dispatch).

The system is stored within VPD’s own servers but is accessible both on-site as a citrix server application and off-site via the VPD intranet system. Currently, partner agencies use the system by connecting to the VPD intranet from their respective agencies.

The centralization of C.R.I.M.E. on VPD servers and the capability of partner agencies to login remotely provides the best balance of function and security. All that is needed is an Internet connection for remote access.

{Case study one}

This was the first of Ibata Hexamer’s serial sexual assaults. The Vancouver resident was charged with 23 counts involving six different victims and subsequently pled guilty. He had no previous history of stranger sex assaults or other indicators which would have led investigators to suspect him. He committed a spree of child sexual assaults until he was finally caught in 2010.

DNA analysis after a 2009 assault connected it with sex assaults of two other children. Police realized they were now dealing with a serial sex offender. A special task force was created and Project Scourge was launched. Over the next year, officers tried but failed to identify a suspect.

After exhausting the list of possible suspects and leads, taskforce members turned to the VPD analytics service for help. Working long hours, the analytics team used the C.R.I.M.E. system to identify possible suspects. They poured over multiple datasets, including information from cell towers, to determine that Hexamer was the prime suspect.

Within seven weeks of the team being assigned to the case, members successfully identified the offender. After obtaining and testing DNA evidence from Hexamer to confirm their suspicions, the taskforce was able to arrest and charge him. Without the C.R.I.M.E. system, it is possible that Hexamer would have continued to go undetected.

{Case study two}

Sharma is another serial sex offender caught thanks to the analysis of the criminal events by the VPD sex crimes analyst using the C.R.I.M.E. system. The Surrey resident hunted his victims in Vancouver and committed the offences in Burnaby. The trigger that set off the investigation occurred Dec. 4, 2011 when Burnaby RCMP was made aware about a possible sexual assault and robbery in the city. The victim was a sex trade worker from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Another sexual assault with similar characteristics took place in Burnaby 14 days later, leading police to believe the two events may be linked. Burnaby RCMP and the VPD worked together closely to determine the suspect in the cases.

The VPD sex crimes analyst assigned to the task was able to query relevant information across multiple jurisdictions because C.R.I.M.E. can pull its data from the PRIME BC provincial wide server. Querying information across multiple jurisdictions was important but the C.R.I.M.E. system’s ability to provide an analytical suite where spatial, temporal and other forms of analysis could be completed was key. The analysis led to Sharma being charged with 12 offences.

{Conclusion}

There have been numerous success stories involving the C.R.I.M.E. system. Other police agencies should take note of the system and strive to head in the same direction. Those who can not create their own systems can partner with the VPD, which has cooperated with and shared system templates with agencies across Canada in an effort to improve policing nationally.

While this article provides an overview into the background and capabilities of the C.R.I.M.E. system, it is truly one of those things that “you have to see to believe”.

BIO BOX