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Detective Database Is On The Case

In the old "Batman" TV series, the caped crusader solved many of Gotham's most dastardly crimes by plugging random bits of evidence into his Batcomputer. With a flurry of blinking lights and mechanical whirring noises, the machine would inevitably spit out the name of whichever super-villain was behind the latest plot. It's a concept that was once laughable, but today it's a reality through the use of a program called Special Investigative Unit Support System.

"[SIUSS] is a comprehensive intelligence and analytical program that is designed to take in all the information that is gained during a case and process it," says Danny Holder, VP of sales for Anteon-CITI, a subsidiary of federal IT contractor Anteon Corp. SIUSS looks at data including vehicle registrations, arrest records, complaints, property ownership, and surveillance reports, then makes links, draws timelines, and performs tactical analysis to help law-enforcement officials solve crimes.

As an example of the software's abilities, Holder offers a hypothetical conspiracy case in which an informant provides the names of some suspects. Investigators obtain the phone records of the suspects, and run them through SIUSS, revealing patterns of calls to certain groups of people. SIUSS then associates that information with surveillance records, allowing investigators to extrapolate that the suspects are using certain people to work for them. "We begin to see some things that we didn't before," says Holder. "It can open some doors for the investigators."

The software has helped to break a number of real-life cases. Holder describes a drive-by shooting which took place at a wedding in Seattle. The description of the suspect was of an Asian male in a red Corvette, heading north. Seattle police called their colleagues to the north, in Vancouver, which has a large Asian community. The Vancouver police entered the suspect's description into SIUSS and, six weeks later, the system flagged a red Corvette that was seen during a surveillance. The suspect was later caught and convicted. Holder points out that if the surveillance information was just put in a paper report and filed, someone would have had to remember the shooting and draw the necessary correlations, and the suspect might never have been caught.

There are about 500 copies of the SIUSS system being used by various local, state, and federal offices. Holder says the market will grow. He thinks that while the law-enforcement community has been slow to acquire technology, it is quickly becoming more computer savvy. "Now they want to go to the next step," he says. "They want to work smarter."

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