The Tarleton State University Rural Law Enforcement Initiative’s goal is to help law enforcement agencies improve their crime fighting abilities by providing them with technology they cannot otherwise afford. Therefore, our services are provided at no cost to our participating agencies. Agencies that sign a Memorandum of Understanding for our services are provided access to a secure database that includes information sharing and sophisticated crime analysis software.
The project was conceived in 2000 by the late Dr. Richard Shigley, who was the head of Tarleton’s Criminal Justice Program. Dr. Shigley realized that because of their limited financial resources, most rural law enforcement agencies did not have access to the same resources as their suburban and urban counterparts. He recognized that this was especially true in the area of technology. Dr. Shigley conducted needs assessments of all sheriffs’ offices in Tarleton’s service area. The results overwhelmingly indicated the need for agencies to efficiently share information.
Today’s society is highly mobile and has greater access to technology than ever before. Criminals do not operate in only one community or geographic area. They have access to and often take advantage of current technology. Rural and small law enforcement agencies have the same responsibilities to protect citizens and their property as larger agencies. However, law enforcement officers in those areas have been largely restricted by jurisdictional boundaries. They historically had no efficient means of accessing and sharing information regarding offenses, incidents, subjects’ descriptions, identities, vehicles, or methods of operation. Larger and metropolitan area law enforcement agencies are often much better funded than their rural counterparts, and can better afford hardware, software, and support costs of modern technology. If rural area law enforcement agencies are to maximize their effectiveness, they must be allowed access to every type of crime fighting technology available.
Information is one of law enforcement’s greatest resources. Law enforcement agencies need a database that provides information sharing and crime analysis tools. These types of tools allow officers to collect data related to persons, events, vehicles, and locations, and to share that information with other agencies. Crime analysis tools provide data regarding where and when specific types of crimes are committed, known offender information, related vehicles, weapons and property, and relationships between people, places, and incidents.
Tarleton has partnered with the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) in Arlington, Texas, for the services of the Law Enforcement Analysis Portal (LEAP) . LEAP employs software that allows officers access to a secure database containing information associated with persons, incidents, vehicles, firearms, narcotics, property and locations. Responses to queries are provided in table format, report format, and geospatially on a map. Relationships between persons, incidents, and locations are also displayed on link charts.
LEAP is entirely web based; therefore no additional hardware or software is required. Each user has a unique user name and password. Officers are able to access the LEAP website from any place that an Internet connection is available, such as the office, a mobile computer terminal, their homes, or an Internet Wi-Fi hot spot. No data entry or other additional work is required by agency employees. NCTCOG’s LEAP servers are located in a CJIS/FBI certified, secure data center.
Tarleton’s initial funding provided services to sheriffs’ offices in the University’s thirty county primary service area. Since that time, the Initiative has grown to provide technology related services to sheriffs’ offices and police departments in a 75 county region in north, central and west Texas. To find out how your agency can participate in our initiative, contact one of our staff members.