Case Studies: CrimEnet
LISTSERV Choice Awards Grand Prize Winner: CrimEnet
CrimEnet uses LISTSERV® email list technology to serve a vital purpose: solving crime. CrimEnet, which stands for Crime Electronic Network, is an online network connecting law enforcement personnel to improve crime solving through email list communication.
Founded in 2003 by Captain Frank Anderson and his colleagues at Indiana's St. Joseph County police department, CrimEnet's membership has grown to 320 law enforcement personnel from 75 agencies across three states (Indiana, Michigan and Ohio).
Anderson attributes CrimEnet's success to the diversity of its members and the clear common goal of the email list: communicating to solve crime.
Open strictly to law enforcement personnel, CrimEnet's members include local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as well as prosecutor investigators, railroad police, college security and airport police. Criminals cross the boundaries of police jurisdictions and even states in committing crimes, and given the time constraints and huge caseloads law enforcement personnel face, CrimEnet effectively bridges a critical gap because it facilitates interagency communication.
Anderson points out that a key benefit of CrimEnet is the ability for investigators to compare details of certain types of crimes in their caseloads to identify patterns that might point to a common suspect, a factor that is particularly apparent with burglaries. Through CrimEnet, police across jurisdictions and states can also easily share photo arrays and various other kinds of graphic files; images of stolen property can be particularly useful. CrimEnet's success has led to better information exchange on a statewide level, with the Indiana Infusion Center – an entity that gathers intelligence throughout that state – and similar agencies in Michigan now including CrimEnet information in their databases.
Once a member posts information to CrimEnet, there is often a response within minutes that helps further the investigation. Key successes of CrimEnet include:
- A large number of law enforcement agencies in Indiana and southwest Michigan utilized CrimEnet's easy communication and rapid information sharing to help apprehend a key suspect and his accomplices, wanted for theft, the year the email list began in 2003.
- A multi-state investigation (Indiana and Michigan) resulted in the arrest of all suspects wanted in a rash of trailer and lawn care thefts and the recovery of $1 million in stolen property in coordination with Kentucky State Police.
- Using CrimEnet information, South Bend, Indiana, police spotted a suspicious vehicle and conducted a traffic stop, leading to Michigan State Police taking into custody two multiple-felony suspects.
- The Cass County, Michigan, Sheriff's Office identified stolen property and helped link up crimes that previously might have not have been recognized as being connected, including several violent home invasions that took place in St. Joseph County, Indiana, and Cass and Berrien Counties in Michigan in 2003. Law enforcement personnel involved stated that successful resolution in that case was a direct result of CrimEnet and the information they were able to share quickly and accurately with one another.
- LaPorte, Indiana, police were able to track down burglars that were stealing flat screen televisions in LaPorte County, Michigan City, Long Beach, and Porter County in Indiana as well as in Berrien County, Michigan.
- The Berrien County Sheriff's Office, with the help of CrimEnet, linked two home invasions from that county to LaPorte, Indiana, enabling law enforcement to gather enough evidence to obtain a warrant for a suspect who became known as the "pillow case burglar".
Criminal investigation is a complex and long-term process, and CrimEnet's work continues round-the-clock, with Anderson looking to continue to increase the LISTSERV list's membership to build on its excellent outcomes in its first five years.
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