Skip to comments.Police Say Matrix Crime Database Needed
Posted on 02/10/2004 5:26:35 PM PST by TomServo
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's top police official told lawmakers Tuesday that a multistate crime database represents the future of law enforcement, despite the heavy criticism privacy activists are heaping on the system.
Without the database, known as Matrix, Col. Timothy Barry said, "It's kind of like fighting with one hand behind your back."
Privacy advocates criticize Matrix as an encroachment on civil liberties because it combines state-held criminal and vehicle files with billions of public records maintained by a private database company.
Six states are members, but at least seven others have backed out of the program because of privacy or cost concerns. In Utah, which put its Matrix membership on hold this month, an oversight committee met for the first time Tuesday to evaluate the state's participation.
At a hearing in Hartford, Barry said that because Matrix lets police combine law enforcement data with such public records as property holdings, professional licenses, sex offender lists and incorporation papers, it lets officers quickly identify kidnapping suspects and locate fugitives.
"We can reduce the time from days and weeks to seconds and minutes," he said.
State investigators have made about 1,000 requests to the database since it went online in November, officials said.
Supportive claims also were aired as the Utah committee met in Salt Lake City. Kirk Torgensen, chief deputy to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, said law enforcement "desperately needs" Matrix, and said the committee could find ways to balance constitutional concerns with its use.
Still, critics of the program have questioned its effectiveness.
"What has been done with the information so far? Has anything good happened? Have we caught a terrorist?" Utah state Sen. Michael Waddoups asked.
Matrix, short for the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, began in 2002 in Florida. It since has drawn in Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, helped by $12 million in initial funding from the federal government.
Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and privacy program, told lawmakers in Connecticut that the database could be tracking private information about individuals who have never been suspected of a crime.
Matrix proponents say the system only accesses publicly available information and only does so in active criminal investigations, with all queries logged and audited to prevent abuse.
"I'm a little perplexed by such stark disagreement," said Connecticut state Rep. Steven Mikutel, a Democrat. "It's almost like two different worlds we're talking about here."
The Connecticut Legislature's Public Safety Committee held the hearing in response to privacy concerns, but the panel is not expected to make a recommendation about the program.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has questioned the privacy implications of his state's involvement, did not attend Tuesday's hearing, but a spokesman said he is reviewing program materials.
If the reader will do a search on the word 'Matrix', you may peruse other articles on FR on the subject.
Yet, for 230 years, police have done a DARNED FINE JOB fighting with that 'hand behind their back'.
This statist thug should shut up, sit down, and leave good and honest people's private and public records alone.
The little town (17,000)I used to live in stopped publishing the pay of cops when the annual report showed that so many of them were making $80,000/$120,000.
To protect their privacy, of course.
"Mr. Anderson, we've been expecting you."
Guess that the cops tryin' to be hipsters...
Sheeooot! Let's see. They have whatever firearms they think they need. (They have MP5's, bean bag guns, tasers, shotguns, sniper rifles, you name it!) They have radios, helicopters with night vision and infra-red cameras. State of the art body armor. Riot gear. They have endless supplies of money they sieze from people all day long for various and sundry reasons. They have computer systems with finger prints, public records, and traffic info. They have the media putting out descriptions and pictures of wanted criminals. They have the cooperation of any business or airport or other LE agencies (including the feds). They have the power of life and death over everyone. They have the love and respect of many Americans, regardless of their actions. They have it all.
So they have the gall to whine that one hand is tied...
Just demonstrates that they'll never be satisfied, and will grab power til they are told "ENOUGH".