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This article describes the development and features of the information system used by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (North Carolina), with a focus on one component called FALCON (Future Alert Contact Network), which sorts through records and reports to identify crime patterns and trends.

In 1994, the biggest complaint of the officers of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) was the lack of information about the community, the department, and crime in general. After a thorough needs assessment in consultation with a professor at the local university, the department sought vendors with a product to match its needs. Finding no existing system that could adequately meet its needs, CMPD administrators decided on custom development. The outcome is an information system that links all workstations within the headquarters building and at 18 remote facilities. A Mobile Data Communications system allows officers to receive dispatches; perform queries of local, State, and Federal databases; transfer and query offense reports and field interview records; access mug shots; and use e-mail to communicate with investigators and administrators. FALCON is one component of the information system. It enables each beat officer to receive alerts when criteria for possible offense/crime trends or patterns in the beat have been met. FALCON "mines" existing data in the information system and automatically notifies each beat officer via pager or e-mail when signs of a possible crime trend are identified from known offenses in the beat area.

Date Published: January 1, 1999