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Criminal Justice Information Services: gearing up for the future.

In 1965, futurist Alvin Toffler coined the term "future shock." Ultimately, this term came to mean "the dizzying orientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future.(1)

As Toffler predicted, the world is currently in the throes of unprecedented, monumental change--change in social values, political and economic change in the global community, and change in technology. Along with these changes come a series of demands and challenges that significantly affect the FBI.

In particular, the vast and ever-changing flow of information makes new demands on FBI services. Accordingly, the FBI's commitment to serve the criminal justice community and to fulfill its responsibilities to the American public dictates that steps be taken to meet these demands.

Therefore, a new division--the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division--has been established to consolidate the FBI's criminal justice services and associated information systems. With this, the FBI builds on its long-standing tradition of providing quality service to local, State, Federal, and international law enforcement.


Throughout its history, the FBI sought to meet the needs of the criminal justice community. The creation of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), and fingerprint identification services achieved this goal.

NCIC plays a vital role by providing law enforcement agencies rapid access to documented criminal justice information. Records on stolen property, criminal histories, and wanted, missing, and unidentified persons allow NCIC users to retrieve information on criminals when they need it.

The Uniform Crime Reports generates a reliable set of criminal statistics for use in law enforcement administration, operations, and management. Its data are one of the Nation's leading social indicators, offering a reliable measure of criminality.

The FBI's identification services operate as a centralized repository and clearinghouse for fingerprint records. The fingerprint files act as a locator or index of criminal arrest activity throughout the United States.


Currently, the FBI is building on its success to provide better service. NCIC is moving toward becoming NCIC-2000. The UCR's national incident-based reporting system--NIBRS--will bring new capabilities to the FBI. And, IAFIS, an integrated, automated fingerprint identification system, will revolutionize the FBI's ability to maintain a current and effective fingerprint identification operation. The advances being integrated into current operations will serve as the FBI's path into the future.


With the NCIC-2000 system, police officers will be able to quickly identify fugitives and missing persons by placing a subject's finger on a fingerprint reader in a patrol car. The reader will then transmit the image to the NCIC computer at FBI Headquarters, and within minutes, the computer will forward a reply to the officer.

A printer installed in patrol cars will allow officers to get copies of a suspect's photograph, fingerprint image, signature, and tattoos, along with artist conceptions and composite drawings of unknown subjects. The printer will also be able to receive images of stolen goods, including cars. These functions will virtually eliminate false arrests based on erroneous identifications.


NIBRS serves as an added crime-fighting tool that is being implemented across the Nation. This system offers a wealth of crime information never before available, including information on such emerging issues as hate crimes. It addresses almost all current criminal justice issues, providing decisionmakers with reliable, comprehensive, uniform data as they develop crime resistance measures.


Over the years, FBI identification services supported State and local crime investigations by examining latent fingerprint evidence from crime scenes and by processing 10-print fingerprint cards sent to FBI Headquarters. With planned improvements on the way, the level of support that the FBI gives to law enforcement continues to increase.

The key concept of IAFIS is the electronic (paperless) transmittal of fingerprint images to the FBI's Identification Division. This will eventually eliminate fingerprint cards in every step of the process.

Fingerprints will be taken at the local level by live-scan fingerprinting. These prints and related data will be processed by a local automated fingerprint identification system and then transmitted to and processed by a State identification bureau. If no match results, the prints will be transmitted electronically to the FBI, where they will be processed by an advanced, high-speed automated fingerprint identification system. The results will be returned electronically to the booking station.


A natural point in the evolution of the FBI's criminal justice information systems is to bring these services together. The merging of NCIC, UCR, and the Identification Division into the Criminal Justice Information Services Division will provide additional quality assurance and technical support to users. As the new systems become operational, law enforcement can do "one-stop shopping" to obtain all information services provided by the FBI.

The Criminal Justice Information Services Division

The FBI created the Criminal Justice Information Services Division after identifying the FBI's strategic services vision for support of the criminal justice community. The division was established with a focus on users--international, Federal, State, and local law enforcement and noncriminal justice organizations.

By joining NCIC and NCIC-2000, fingerprint identification services, UCR, and other related services, the CJIS Division will provide state-of-the-art identification and information services. And, as a quality-focused, customer-driven organization, CJIS will continually seek ways to meet the ever-changing needs of law enforcement.

The mission of CJIS is multifaceted. The new division will provide integrated identification services to users. It will also serve as a major repository of criminal justice information for use within the FBI and by the law enforcement community at large.

In addition, CJIS will act as a focal point for the continual advancement of existing information systems and the development of new information services. Finally, the division will provide information-based support for some of the analytical functions of the FBI, such as latent fingerprint examination, DNA analysis, and behavioral science.

CJIS Goals

With the creation of the CJIS, the FBI identified several short-term and long-term goals. The following serve as short-term goals:

1) To revitalize the identification process

2) To develop/deploy NCIC-2000 successfully

3) To complete NIBRS successfully

4) To develop a user participation plan

5) To develop data quality auditing standards, policies, security, and support

6) To create a public awareness program

7) To develop and implement a strategy for assisting States and other users in creating linkages to the FBI's automated systems

8) To develop a training and technical support program for Federal, State, and local users of CJIS' services

9) To develop a comprehensive transition plan

10) To formulate strategic planning of future services that may be appropriate for the new division, including DNA, VICAP databases, and the felony gun program.

Meeting these short-term goals will thrust the FBI toward reaching the long-term goals for CJIS.

In the long term, the FBI hopes to develop an integrated view of information services in the criminal justice community--a view that encompasses both relevant biographical information and historical data. The plan is to promote a customer-focused culture in CJIS that fosters continuous improvement and innovation in serving the criminal justice community.

Another long-term goal is to strengthen the partnership that exists among Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and other users of CJIS' services. The FBI will create a state-of-the-art communications network to provide services to all users and a comprehensive auditing, training, and technical support plan for users.


The FBI designed the Criminal Justice Information Services Division to better serve the ever-changing needs of the criminal justice community. Building on a proud history of service, the new division will enhance the FBI's partnership with local, State, Federal, and international law enforcement agencies.

The FBI and the CJIS Division stand dedicated to provide the criminal justice community with the very best quality information services available--and improving these services as technology advances. In short, the FBI is gearing up for the future today.


Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (New York, New York: Random House, 1970).
COPYRIGHT 1993 Federal Bureau of Investigation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:FBI launches new division
Author:Sessions, William S.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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