The Tucson Police Department empowers officers in the field

IBM i2 COPLINK software provides advanced analytic and search capabilities to help solve crimes

Published on 18-Oct-2013

Tucson Police Department


Deployment country:
United States


Established in 1871, the Tucson Police Department (TPD) in Arizona has approximately 1,000 authorized sworn officers and more than 290 nonsworn employees serving a community of approximately 520,000 citizens living in roughly 200 square miles. The TPD’s mission is to serve the public in partnership with its community, protect life and property, prevent crime, and resolve problems.

Business need:
The Tucson Police Department (TPD) strives to meet the law enforcement needs of a growing, diverse community using automation, intelligence and lead generation tools.

The TPD uses IBM® i2® COPLINK® software to identify leads, close cases quickly and share information with other participating jurisdictions.

The solution helps investigations by enhancing the ability to generate leads, and it helps increase accuracy, close cases more quickly and provide situational awareness to improve officer safety.

Case Study

Established in 1871, the Tucson Police Department (TPD) in Arizona has approximately 1,000 authorized sworn officers and more than 290 nonsworn employees serving a community of approximately 520,000 citizens living in roughly 200 square miles. The TPD’s mission is to serve the public in partnership with its community, protect life and property, prevent crime, and resolve problems.

Identifying criminals using partial or vague information

Some criminals are clever. Some aren’t. Consider the case of the convenience store bandit. This individual would learn the name of a convenience store’s manager and then call a clerk at that store claiming to be the manager. He would inform the clerk that a customer had slipped and fallen in the store but agreed not to sue in exchange for USD500 in cash and two burritos. The bandit would claim that the customer was on his way to the store and instruct the clerk to give him the money and the burritos. The thief then arrived in a taxi and left with cash and snacks.

This thief did not leave clues. But he did strike again, and then again in another jurisdiction. Clerks were only able to provide vague and partial descriptions. And because of the sporadic nature of the incidents, catching the thief was difficult. The TPD used IBM i2 COPLINK system to link with other jurisdictions to identify a suspect using a partial description of the thief’s tattoo. The i2 COPLINK system can perform “fuzzy searches,” using partial information such as a portion of a license plate or a suspect’s potential nicknames and aliases, for example “Jim” or “Tim.” The system can also search on multiple keywords such as “brown,” “black” or both keywords at once, which is especially helpful in describing hair color. Further, the i2 COPLINK system helps users search data nested eight levels deep, returning associations as they are uncovered.

Using the i2 COPLINK system, the TPD alerted all local jurisdictions of the repeated scam. Local police heightened surveillance of targeted stores, identified a suspect leaving in a taxi with a marked sack and two burritos, and arrested and prosecuted the individual.

Giving officers in the field access to advanced analytic capabilities

Today, individuals use geospatial searches on cell phones and tablets to locate addresses, businesses or landmarks. The TPD can use the i2 COPLINK software geospatial mapping features to quickly create location maps highlighting particular types of incidents, such as arson, burglaries or prowling, using specific dates, times of day or other criteria. Officers can also search unstructured data fields, including aspects of the suspect description, using demographic data such as height, weight or age or unstructured narrative data such as “purple shoes.” They can then map incidents that match these criteria to establish crime patterns within neighborhoods or over a larger geographical area. TPD officers can create these maps as needed, giving an officer in the field analytical capabilities historically only available to analysts in the office. The department can then make more-informed decisions about where to deploy resources, based on past criminal activity.

“COPLINK Detect has become one of the most formidable tools, both from a tactical and strategic perspective for law enforcement personnel and analytical support staff alike,” says David Azuelo, Captain, TPD. “The software provides us with the capacity to take information stored in our data warehouses and immediately convert it to actionable intelligence, not only increasing efficiency, but also providing public safety personnel with a sense of situational awareness never available to them before. In summary, it saves lives!”

Reopening cases that have gone cold

The solution can also help the TPD with unsolved cases from the past. In 1976, a homicide occurred in Tucson, Arizona. Although rigorously examined, investigative tools at the time, such as the federally-supported National Law Enforcement Teletype System (NLETS), were limited and the crime remained unsolved. At that time, communication among jurisdictions involved making multiple phone calls and sending forms through mail or fax, which could take days or even weeks. Manually coordinating messages and reports was time-consuming and error-prone. Interdepartmental communication consisted of big brown envelopes exchanged through interdepartmental mail systems. Visual evidence such as video or mug shots was poor quality, if it even existed. Sophisticated software for facial recognition was unavailable. Sometimes it was necessary to drive to another jurisdiction to manually search filing cabinets of records to identify leads.

After 37 years, the TPD reexamined this case as part of an Arizona initiative. Officers entered old information about the primary suspect into the i2 COPLINK system, which is linked to other state, local and federal jurisdictions, extending the power of local police department search capabilities. In fact, using i2 COPLINK software, an investigator can access shared data from all participating agencies with just one click.

After extending the search to include neighboring state California, the TPD identified a person matching the criteria of the primary suspect, who had been issued a minor citation in San Diego. After further investigation, the TPD confirmed that this person was the suspect and made the arrest.

Gaining insight through advanced reporting and analytics capabilities

Police rely on information to do their jobs. Officers regularly provide routine structured data, such as names, addresses and incident type, as well unstructured data, such as suspect descriptions, crime scene descriptions and witness remarks. This information is vital for investigators and prosecutors. By searching for this information in the i2 COPLINK system, including wild card searches and queries on multiple characteristics, such as “brown or hazel eyes,” officers have an advantage in tactical lead generation and can generate reports from search results.

The i2 COPLINK system also integrates with CompStat, a process for police department management and accountability developed by the New York City Police Department. Through this integration, the TPD can access key performance targets at the division level, improving insight and accountability. Using the commander’s dashboard feature of the i2 COPLINK system, senior staff can manage resource deployment and incidents.

“It’s about making our communities safer and helping protect officers in the field,” says Roberto Villaseñor, Chief of Police for the TPD. “Using the COPLINK system, we’re taking advantage of modern technology to help stay ahead of the criminals.”

For more information

To learn more about the IBM i2 COPLINK application, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website:

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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

i2 COPLINK Premium

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America October 2013 IBM, the IBM logo,, COPLINK, and i2 are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data and client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. BIC03033-USEN-00