NGA grants spark state justice info sharing projects

With the help of seed money from the Justice Department, six states are kicking off projects aimed at improving the sharing of justice and public safety information across law enforcement, courts and correction systems.

The proposed projects, which range from improving interstate sharing of justice data to developing privacy protection standards, will help develop privacy protection policies for information sharing and collaborating with states' homeland security initiatives.

The six projects are:

  • The state of Alabama will use its grant to help fund a pilot program to demonstrate the interstate sharing of critical justice-related information, including court, corrections and parole records as well as driver's license and car registration records.

  • The Delaware Information Analysis Center, which provides each law enforcement agency with a direct link to critical information, will procure additional analysis tools for enhancing homeland security functions.

  • The state of Illinois will attempt to identify privacy issues created by the enhanced collection, analysis and sharing of electronic police incident report information.

  • The Michigan state police will upgrade its Statewide Network of Agency Photos, a database of criminal mug shots, by enabling the submission of digital images.

  • The South Carolina Information Exchange will create a standardized search function for phone numbers that enables users to find everyone who has used or been associated with a specific phone number. The search function would also allow users to search scars, marks and tattoos.

  • The Wisconsin Justice Information Sharing program will use its grant to help develop a standard language that will ensure privacy protections throughout the integrated justice system.

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices awarded a $25,000 grant to each state for projects that are to be completed by January 2007. The grant program is funded by the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

The grants can be used to help pay for the design of an operational system or process, convene a task force to develop an implementation plan or add to existing funding for a justice information sharing project, the NGA said.

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