Police Departments Fight Crime with CRIMES

A Grapevine police officer uses the CRIMES software on patrol.

At the Seguin Police Department, officers are using the CRIMES software package developed by Sam Houston State University's Police Research Center to fight crime in their community.

Seguin is one of a growing number of law enforcement agencies across the state to sign up for the University’s Criminal Research, Information Management and Evaluation System (CRIMES), a state-of-the-art, comprehensive communication information management system. The one-stop system assists with dispatching, mobile communication, automated crime and incident reporting, arrests, bookings, property room management, jail management, traffic activities and crime and operational analysis.

"It has completely changed the way we do business," said Seguin Police Chief Kevin Kelso, who graduated from the New Chiefs Academy and the Leadership Command College at the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas at SHSU’s Criminal Justice Center . "We can be more proactive on patrol, more visible and more seen by the public. Patrol used to have to come back to the office to write their reports, but now they can do it in the field. It is very advantageous for use to be able to research crime and criminal statistics. It helps use better allocate our resources."

The system is being used by 40 small- to medium-sized departments across Texas, with a new agency added every month. The departments using the new system are located primarily in the greater Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio regions. Among the agencies most recently added were police departments in Crowley, Kerrville, Midlothian, Red Oak and Waxahachie.

The program is supported through an annual licensing fee paid by participating agencies. Income is returned to operations and research. The program has a technical staff of seven and recently moved to an expanded office area.

"The CRIMES project is one of the Criminal Justice Center's outreach endeavors," said Dr. Larry Hoover, Professor and Director of the Police Research Center at Sam Houston State University. "We form a partnership with agencies to develop information system components that improve both the operational efficiency and crime interdiction efforts."

For Seguin, it puts information at the fingertips of officers, including dispatch, beat activity, incidents, master name files and unit-to-unit messaging. It also allows officers to take reports in the field and forward them to supervisors and investigators to review the data. The system features analysis capabilities for offenses, accidents, response time, case and resource management and system operations.

The linked database also provides a wealth of information for research by faculty at the College of Criminal Justice, particularly offering data from small police agencies which are seldom studied. Access to the data is fully protected.

"It provides a broad database for faculty and graduate research," said Hoover. "We build sufficient agency data that whenever there is an issue of importance, we can look at it from multi-agency approach."

For local law enforcement agencies, the system is a good crime-fighting tool to help agencies recognize trends in their own community, as well as linking offenses between cities. The Police Research Center recently applied for a federal grant to allow them to do crime analysis on a regional basis.

"If there is a string of burglaries in Keller, Southlake will know it’s coming their way," said Hoover of the potential project.

Member of The Texas State University System