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Chicago Police Department Fights Crime Using Oracle9i Developer Suite

With more than half of all Illinois crime occurring in Chicago, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has a heavy workload. Many "incidents" - including 800 arrests per day and some 5 million 911 emergency calls per year - burden the CPD with a huge data-processing task. As the second-largest police department in the country, with more than 13,200 police officers and 3,000 support staff distributed among 25 districts, the CPD has met this challenge by moving from disparate legacy IBM ES-9000 mainframe-based information systems to an integrated UNIX-based Criminal History Records Information System (CHRIS) residing on an Oracle database.

"Automating paper processes and integrating the CPD's various criminal information systems was critical for us," says Cathy Kolb, manager for the CHRIS development team. "The mainframe is outsourced by the City of Chicago's Bureau of Information Services, with whom we share it. It's a problem. We can't have criminal data maintained privately. Also, some 225 people currently maintain about 4.5 million pieces of paper on file for tens of thousands of criminal histories. We needed to streamline these operations. Finally, in the course of our daily work, multiple data sheets are filled out and filed by police officers and others, and then manually entered by clerks into the mainframe system. It's often a 24-hour process. Redundancy, time-loss, and paper-shuffling are the hallmarks of the process. CHRIS solves many of these problems."

"Things have gone extremely well using the Oracle tools," says Kolb. "The amount of documentation that is automatically generated using Oracle Designer and Developer is invaluable to us for tracking development and enforcing standards. Application development is also more controlled than without the tools, because you can't start development until you pull in the templates. And the impact analysis reports automatically profile how any proposed changes will ripple through the system. This feature will be very important as we enhance CHRIS in the future."

Design and development of CHRIS included a three-year cycle. Phase One was a 13-week preliminary study with Oracle Consulting Services and interviews with 180 CPD staff members helped identify the enterprise data model. In Phase Two, development began on the bulk of the modules using Oracle's CASE tool, Oracle Designer, and Oracle's 4GL, Oracle Developer.

CHRIS provides a fully integrated criminal history and case management information system that contrasts sharply with the many disparate systems the CPD had before. It also links the CPD to all the relevant city-, state-, and country-wide criminal justice institutions with which it needs to communicate. The interface includes tabs, pushbuttons, and full GUI functionality to enable quick and easy user access to required information.

"We're estimating the equivalent of 90 police officers a day will be freed for street duty as a result of the technological advances in CHRIS," says Kevin Byrne, CHRIS project director and manager of the Identification Section. "The benefits will include less time for officers spent filling out forms, better online access to data for detectives doing analysis, faster criminal identification (from 12 to 2 hours), and elimination of redundant data entry with an accurate, single source of information."

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