Web site aims to reduce crime

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Two Chilton County natives have founded an Internet database that is hoped to reduce the crime rate by allowing law enforcement agencies to share information faster.

The Investigative Criminal Tracker (ICT) is a multi-agency case management system for use by law enforcement only. It is not a software but rather a secure Web site that can be updated by the minute.

The Chilton County Sheriff’s Department — along with Clanton, Jemison and Thorsby police departments — all are participating in the program, which is endorsed by Central Alabama Crime Stoppers and Birmingham Area Crime Stoppers. The Mountain Brook Police Department is also involved.

“It will hold hundreds of thousands of cases,” said Ray Smitherman, owner of a local marketing company and co-founder of ICT. “The search attributes in this database are huge.”

While the information posted on the site is visible only to law enforcement officials, it’s no big secret. Much of the information is the same that is available on public incident reports, but the purpose of ICT is to speed up the process of information sharing.

For example, if burglary suspects in different towns have something in common, such as a yellow bandana, star-shaped tattoo or a silver handgun, they might turn out to be the same suspect. Searches can be sorted by county and endless other categories.

“If they leave here and go to Elmore County and commit the same burglary, law enforcement agencies can share that information,” Smitherman said. “We hope it will decrease the crime rate in the area.”

Smitherman said agencies often hear about crimes through the grapevine weeks after they occur. He and co-founder Todd Bowen are hoping ICT can cut those weeks down to days, hours and minutes.

The time factor is what sets ICT apart from similar databases. ICT uses live photos, alert e-mails, and up-to-date case information posted as it happens. The site’s content concerns anything involving an adult crime but can also include amber alerts and other pertinent information.

“Our goal is to go statewide, perhaps even nationwide,” said Smitherman, a former Montgomery police officer himself. “Other agencies have to be involved in the system for it to work.”

Agencies are charged a nominal monthly fee and are provided with a username and password. They can then view information from neighboring agencies but cannot edit any information other than their own.

“It’s up to them to share information. It’s not a background checking service,” Smitherman said. “It’s something every law enforcement agency needs in their arsenal.”

The site’s homepage may be viewed at www.ictlive.us.