The CrimeCenter software lets patrol officers, crime scene investigators and detectives organize their paperwork all on one application. (Image: Courtesy of CrimeCenter)

From the first panicked 911 call, to the crime scene, to the investigation and eventual prosecution of a crime, there is paperwork. Hundreds of pages of forms, narratives, sketches, notes and other documentation all go into a response to a major crime.

A new software program proposes to revolutionize the process, putting everything into an app accessed by everyone from the patrol officers, through the crime scene investigators, to the chief detectives on a case.

CrimeCenter is a case management system that is being used by a growing number of police agencies in the U.S., since it was rolled out earlier this year by the namesake Newark, N.J.-based company.

The key is centering everything around a cloud-based hub of information in which everyone sees what everyone else is doing.

“CrimeCenter is very document-driven,” said Mike Cunningham, a retired New York Police Department detective who is the CrimeCenter manager. “It works really well for crime scene investigation.”

The software functions by putting everyone on the same electronic page.

Smartphones, tablets and computers all ensure that people are notified of an incident and the status of a response, and presented with necessary task-based forms.

For instance, the CrimeCenter case folder could be generated with a 911 call. The patrol officers would get the call, and then be given a task list to secure and cordon off a crime scene. When those tasks are done and updated in the app, a major crimes detective would then get an email or text notification. The chief investigators would also be monitoring, whether they’re on scene or en route.

“They respond and open up an electronic case folder, and each task they do, they complete what we call a worksheet,” Cunningham explains. “Whether that’s a walkthrough, or a conferral with someone at the scene. They can also report all the personnel at the scene, why they’re there.

“You compile a whole case, step-by-step … Things don’t get lost, or slip through the cracks,” he added. “At the end, it produces a really robust case. It makes case management really good, and it starts to drive workflow.”

The order of the fingerprinting, DNA, blood spatter, firearms, photography and other processes at the crime scene would all be issued by the system, as programmed by the department’s brass.

Two hundred template forms are in the system, with the possibility of customizing further forms for each department’s needs. The cost is either for an entire department, or for a pay-as-you-go, per-user price tag which allows smaller agencies to afford it, the company said.

Cybersecurity in such a crucial system is paramount, Cunningham said. The secure cloud system is on the same footing as the Criminal Justice Information Services standards established by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  

Cunningham, author of the Routledge text Crime Scene Unit Management with two other NYPD detectives has spoken about the necessity of detail and task tracking in previous interviews with Forensic Magazine.

The software emerged from a major IT project at NYPD undertaken by the company Information Builders, which established the framework about a decade ago. Cunningham and the IT experts at CrimeCenter are attempting to take a commercial version nationally.

A handful of other state and local agencies are being brought online in the coming months, Cunningham said. 

The CrimeCenter team will be presenting the tool at the 31st Annual Police Security Expo, held in Atlantic City on June 27 and 28. 

Other electronic investigative databases boast varying levels of paperless law-enforcement management tools. DataWorks Plus is one such system, with headquarters in South Carolina; another similar system is CrimePad, a program currently in use by roughly 200 agencies, according to the company's executive management.