NCIC Celebrates 40 Years
NCIC Turns 40
FBI Technology Saving Lives
|Launched on January 27, 1967, NCIC is an electronic clearinghouse of criminal
justice information. The system is available around the clock, every day of year,
handling an average of 5.5 million queries daily, with responses in fractions
of a second.
If you’ve ever watched one of those crime dramas on TV and heard the term “NCIC” mentioned in passing and wondered what it was, you’re probably not alone.
NCIC, which stands for National Crime Information Center, is one of the unsung heroes of crime-fighting—little known to the public, but used every day by law enforcement officers nationwide and even across the border to take terrorists and criminals off the street, find missing persons and property, and save lives.
Launched on January 27, 1967—making it 40 on Saturday—NCIC is an electronic clearinghouse of criminal justice information that can be tapped into by a police officer in a squad car and by any of the 90,000 agencies now connected to the massive computerized database. We run the “host computer” at our Criminal Justice Information Services or CJIS facility in West Virginia, and its information is updated daily by agencies in all 50 states, D.C., the Virgin Islands, Guam, and Canada.
Here are just some of the records NCIC stores and searches: names (including variations), fingerprints, mugshots, crime records, and parole and probation information…on terrorists, national and international fugitives, convicted sex offenders, prisoners, missing and unidentified persons, violent gang members, immigration violators, etc. NCIC also has seven categories of stolen property listings and photos.
The system is available around the clock, every day of year—handling an average of 5.5 million queries daily, with responses in fractions of a second.
No wonder Thomas E. Bush, III, our top CJIS executive, said, “It would be hard to find a more reliable, widely used, and important law enforcement tool than NCIC over the last 40 years.”
Just one example of how it works in real life: recently, a police department in Arkansas entered an arrest warrant into NCIC for a bank robber wanted on capital murder charges, only to discover that another department in California had just requested information on that individual after detaining him for unusual behavior in a local business. Turns out, this cross-checking led to the capture of the fugitive.
“We’re very proud of NCIC’s legacy, but what’s most important to us is what it can do today,” says Bush. “We’re constantly trying to make it better and faster.” And we have, with a major technical upgrade in 1999 and important additions of terrorism and gang information in recent years.
As you might suspect with a system that’s used just about every minute of every day, there’s plenty more to the NCIC story. And you can find it here, as follows: