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History and Milestones

History and Milestones

In the 1960s, Director J. Edgar Hoover presided over the meeting during which the decision was made to implement a computer system that would centralize crime information from every state and provide that information to law enforcement throughout the nation. Working with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the FBI created an advisory board made up of state and local police to develop nationwide standards and consulted with the Commerce Department to build an effective telecommunications system. On January 27, 1967, the system was launched on 15 state and city computers that were tied into the FBI's central computer in Washington, D.C.—which at that time contained five files and 356,784 records on things like stolen autos, stolen license plates, stolen/missing guns, and wanted persons/fugitives. In its first year of operation, NCIC processed approximately 2.4 million transactions, an average of 5,479 transactions daily.

Early NCIC computer banks

 

Early NCIC computer banks

The first hit came in May 1967, when a New York City police officer—suspicious of a parked car—radioed in a request for an NCIC search of the license plate. Within 90 seconds, he was informed that the car had been stolen a month earlier in Boston. We got a report that the patrolman exclaimed, "It works! It works!" The most recent generation of NCIC became operational on July 11, 1999, enhancing the base capabilities of the legacy system and adding important new files. Some of the new capabilities include: the ability to accept, store, and retrieve digital images; expanded fields; and delayed inquiry notification. The delayed inquiry provides a capability for the system to automatically extract certain descriptive data from entries and use it to search the transaction log for inquiries conducted up to five days prior to the entry. Notifications are sent to both the entering and inquiring agency for further investigation.

On January 27, 1967, the FBI launched the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, an electronic clearinghouse of criminal justice information (mug shots, crime records, etc.) that can be tapped into by police officers in squad cars or by police agencies nationwide.

 

On January 27, 1967, the FBI launched the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, an electronic clearinghouse of criminal justice information (mug shots, crime records, etc.) that can be tapped into by police officers in squad cars or by police agencies nationwide.

Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the NCIC’s Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File (VGTOF), took on added significance. Although the file had been a part of the NCIC since 1995, it contained few records. After 9/11, it became a central collection point for information about terror suspects. Within three years, the VGTOF grew to contain more than 100,000 records and was recently split into two separate files. On December 23, 2003, NCIC processed 4,712,643 transactions, with an average response time of .1119 seconds. On August 4, 2006, NCIC set a new record for transactions processed on a single day—6,050,879. The average response time—the time it takes for NCIC to receive, process, and respond to an inquiry—for these transactions was 0.0566 seconds. In January 2007, NCIC celebrated its 40th anniversary with a ceremony at the CJIS Division in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

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