The city of Elgin received a grant to collaborate with Kane County on the implementation of a data-sharing system among law enforcement agencies across the county.
The $311,000 in federal funds awarded through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority will allow the Kane County Sheriff's Department, plus departments in Carpentersville, East Dundee, West Dundee, Sleepy Hollow, Geneva, St. Charles, Batavia, Wayne, Pingree Grove, South Elgin and Campton Hills to share data using software made by New World Systems.
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All but the latter four agencies use the software, but few are connected to each other, said Elgin Deputy Chief Bill Wolf, who spearheaded the project.
Kane County will hold the main server for several towns, he said. The deadline for completion is Sept. 30.
"It's something that we've seen the need for quite a long time. We're really excited about this coming to fruition," Wolf said. "It's definitely a very tight timeline, and we're working with New World Systems to get that ready."
Local law enforcement agencies can access information about criminal records, missing persons, registered sex offenders and more through the state and national database systems.
However, unless connected, they can't access neighboring police departments' records, including information about whether individuals have ever been considered suspects in specific incidents, or items reported missing during burglaries, Wolf said.
Getting that information sometimes means waiting up to a couple of days, said Kim Schult, record manager for the St. Charles Police Department.
"The larger the agency, the longer it takes, only because of the huge volume of requests," she said.
With the data-sharing system, the information will be accessible with a few keyboard strokes.
"The investigative aspect of it is improved greatly with a broader pool of data available to each officer,"she said. "It will be as though you're researching your own data."
Police departments that don't use New World Systems might incur in additional costs for setup, Wolf said. Annual maintenance costs in Elgin will be about $5,000, possibly less for smaller departments, he said.
South Elgin has budgeted about $30,000 this year for that purpose, said Deputy Chief Jerry Krawczyk.
"We've very excited," Krawczyk said. "Any time you can share information with other agencies I think it benefits everyone."
Carpentersville Police Cmdr. Tim Bosshart praised Wolf for making the project happen.
"Bill was the one who got the idea do to do it," he said. "We all thought, 'Yeah, that would be nice,' but Bill is the one who took the bull by the horns."