It's a common scene on any road in America. An officer pulls a motorist for some violation. The officer then runs a computer check of the motorist's vehicle before he even steps out of the car.
That database check gives the officer an idea of what kind of threat he or she may face from a violator. But there are a couple of serious problems with it. One, it sometimes takes way too long for the officer to get a return on the request for information. Two, the information that the officer receives is only as good as the database that it was pulled from and that database may be woefully incomplete.
Barry Bellue, CEO of Thinkstream Inc., says he can solve these problems with his company's new Integrated Justice database engine. And his vision is to link public safety databases across local, regional, and national systems.
That's a lot easier said than done, which Bellue readily admits. The veteran software developer says there are two major obstacles that must be overcome by anyone who is trying to create a nationwide, statewide, regionwide, or even local network of integrated law enforcement databases.
The first is technology. Databases have a hard time connecting when they are written in different languages and operate on different types of computer servers. This is true in law enforcement and in business. But Thinkstream's patented technology can make disparate databases play nice.
Bellue's proof of concept for the Thinkstream technology is his entire home state of Louisiana. Thinkstream has now connected the databases of 64 parish sheriffs and 200-plus police departments. The system also includes corrections statewide, prosecutors' offices, and probation offices for a total of 325 agencies.
Which brings us to the second major obstacle that delays the development of a true nationwide database network for law enforcement: politics. Just because numerous agencies in a region, state, or nation can share information, that doesn't mean they will.
Integrated Justice allows each agency to control how much data it is willing to share with its neighbors. Bellue says this feature has worked out really well in Louisiana, and he is trying to persuade other agencies to build statewide databases.
Thinkstream's Integrated Justice is scalable from the smallest to the largest agency. The company has also taken steps to keep the price as economical as possible, as little as $5,000 to $10,000 for a small police department and $25,000 for a sheriff's department with a jail management system, a records management system, and a computer-aided dispatch system. (Mobile applications are additional.) The benefit for a small agency, according to Bellue, is that it can combine all of its databases into one system.
Mobile applications are additional, but Bellue believes agencies will want to take a look at Thinkstream's variety of options, including vehicle and suspect identification, records management, and investigations management tools. Each application has been optimized for use even under the worst of conditions. For example, Thinkstream's patrol application can return vehicle and suspect information in two or three seconds on a fast network and less than 10 seconds on an antiquated RF system.
Integrated Justice systems are in operation or being implemented in hundreds of agencies, including all of San Diego County. Bellue says the company is ready to provide its product to any agency nationwide and can get them up and running in less than six months. "We're ready to go anywhere in the United States," he says.