How Police Access Data to Obtain Criminal Information: Uncle Bob's Story

Seal of the National Crime Information Center ...
Seal of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), USA. — “Servicing Our Citizens” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Tabetha Cooper

In the Criminal Justice system there are different types of data.  Law enforcement can obtain just about any type of information desired about any through their databases.  Uncle Bob was arrested for this very reason.  Through Uncle Bob's story a person can see the process and learn the databases officer's have at their fingertips as well as the communication techniques law enforcement agencies use.
            Uncle Bob and I reside in California and decided to take a vacation to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  As later verified on mapquest.com, we were ten miles from Tampa on Interstate 75 when Uncle Bob was pulled over for speeding, he was traveling 80 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone.  Uncle Bob seemed to be a bit nervous about the cop pulling him over.  I guess that he knew at the moment the officer was using his two way radio to call in the license plate number.  He knew that I was on probation for driving with no insurance and Uncle Bob hates delays.  "Uncle Bob, please settle down.  It is alright I have insurance now.  Plus you are driving, there is no reason to worry." I tell him.
            "I am sorry, I will be fine," he replied as he pulled to the shoulder of the interstate.  The officer, I believe his badge read Officer Blake, asked Uncle Bob for his license and registration.  He calmly took out his wallet as I grab my registration and proof of insurance from the glove box.
            As Officer Blake walked back to his vehicle, I told Uncle Bob not to worry because my probation would not come up simply by a license plate check.  He said that he was aware of that.  While Officer Blake was in his care you scanned the bar code on Uncle Bob's driver’s license which verified that they were valid with no restriction.  He then entered the information from Uncle Bob's license (name, birth date, and social security number) into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.  This is done by accessing the Internet from the mobile office set up in his cruiser.  The mobile office consists of a computer, a two way radio, and a scanner. (Foster, 2005).
            The next thing I knew Officer Blake requested Uncle Bob to step out of the car with his hands in the air.  I ducked slightly to look out of the driver's window, I was going to ask what was going on until I saw that Officer Blake had his gun drawn.  He told me to set in the passenger seat with my hands on the dash.  I was really beginning to wonder what was going on.  Uncle Bob said, "Do what the officer says.  Officer, she has nothing to do with this I promise you that."  That was the last thing I heard from Uncle Bob.  Officer Blake had as my Uncle to place his hands on the trunk of the car.  Although I could not see what was going on I was sure the officer was searching Uncle Bob for weapons. 
            As the officer read Uncle Bob his Miranda Warnings I sat in the car wondering what in the world this was all about.  Uncle Bob did not seem to surprise of the event.  I knew he has been in trouble in the state of California more than one time in the past.  Remembering the big party Uncle Bob had thrown the month before, celebrating his "true freedom" as he put it, I was aware he was no longer on probation.  What could all this be about?  As I finished that though the officer came to my side of the car and started to ask me questions about how I knew Uncle Bob.  Giving the shortest answers possible, I completely complied with Officer Blake.
            Officer Blake explained to me that upon requesting information about Uncle Bob from the NCIC database he learned that Uncle Bob had a warrant out for murder.  "Sir, you have to be mistaken!  He could never do anything like that,” were all the words that I could manage to say.  Deciding the best thing to do was follow them to the police station, I got in my car still dumbfounded by what I had heard.
            Once at the station, the officer found out that both the agency that possessed the warrant on my uncle and their own agency used software purchased from a first tier manufacturer.  He was able to access the portion of Sacramento's record management system (RMS) and evidence management system (EMS) that gave information that pertains to Uncle Bob. (Foster, 2005).  Looking over Officer's Blake shoulder I was able to see that Sacramento's police department had physical evidence, more specifically DNA evidence, that Uncle Bob had raped and murder a little girl that lived on his block.  I could not believe what I had seen.  I called Aunt Pauline and informed her of what was going on.  Meanwhile, Officer Blake booked Uncle Bob and set up extradition back to California.
            As a note to all those interested, Uncle Bob got the death penalty after convicted for the rape and murder of a seven year old girl in Sacramento, California.  California adopted the 1994 Three Strike Law, which states that any offender that has committed their third felony would be sentenced to twenty-five years to life, regardless of the actual offense. (Egelko, 2010)  Since this was Uncle Bob's third offense we knew he would at least get that.  California also adopted the death penalty in 1872 and after ruling it unconstitutional in 1972 went on to reinstate it in 1977.   Needless to say, it was no suprise to the family that Uncle Bob received the death penalty.  We were just happy that Uncle Bob was able to choose lethal injection! (State of California, 2009).


Egelko, Bob. (2010) High Court: Calif. can apply '3 strikes' law to juveniles. Retrieved April 20, 2010, from http://www.correctionsone.com/juvenile-offenders/articles/2050079-High

Foster, R.E. (2000). Police Technology. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall

MapQuest. (2010) Driving Directions from Sacramento, California to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.                Retrieved April 19, 2010, from http://www.mapquest.com/maps?1c=Sacramento&1s

State Of California. (2009) History of Capital Punishment in California. Retrieved April 17,                                 2010, from http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Reports_Research/historyCapital.html


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