40 Years of NCIC
|Washington, D.C. January 24, 2007|
Clarksburg, WV – When a New York City police officer on patrol in 1967 radioed a request to the FBI’s new National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to run the plates of a suspicious parked car, he learned in 90 seconds that the car had been stolen in Boston a month earlier. By any measure of the day, that transaction was speedy considering it had to search 95,000 records in 15 state and city computers linked to the FBI. Fast forward to 2007, when officers query NCIC over 5 million times a day, search millions of records, and get a response in approximately .05 seconds.
As NCIC approaches its 40 th anniversary, success stories such as the one above are every day occurrences. In recognition of the anniversary and NCIC’s accomplishments, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division, in Clarksburg, West Virginia will hold a commemorative ceremony on January 26, 2007. Cartha D. “Deke” DeLoach, former FBI Deputy Director under J. Edgar Hoover, will be the keynote speaker for this event.
Below are just a few examples of NCIC successes over the years:
1.) In early 1999, a Field Investigations Office of the New York Division of Motor Vehicles (NYDMV) noticed a discrepancy in the vehicle identification number (VIN) of a 1961 Jaguar. The NYDMV then contacted NCIC staff and requested an NCIC off-line search. Based on a partial VIN obtained from further examination of the vehicle, the NCIC search produced a 1981 stolen vehicle record for the same 1961 Jaguar. New York authorities recovered the automobile, valued at $100,000.
2.) After an informant gave an FBI agent information about an organized drug group operating between Arizona and the Midwest, NCIC staff conducted searches on names that the informant provided from January 1994 to February 1996. They found inquiries that verified the suspected geographic travel patterns of many of the subjects. This information aided local and federal authorities in securing indictments of the individuals for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Local and federal authorities subsequently searched the suspects’ property and recovered cash and drugs valued at $350,000. Nine individuals were arrested.
3.) Police were called to a private residence after the owner was found dead. Detectives subsequently determined that the individual was a homicide victim but found no evidence to identify the perpetrator. After weeks of questioning family members and neighbors, the detectives began to suspect a stepson who lived several hundred miles away in a different state. Though the stepson claimed he was not in the area when the homicide occurred, a neighbor reported seeing a vehicle with out-of-state license plates near the victim’s home around the time of the incident. Working with investigators from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the detectives were able to obtain a list of vehicles matching the description provided by the neighbor. Further investigation revealed that one license plate belonged to the girlfriend of the stepson. When confronted with the fact that her car may have been used in the commission of a crime, the girlfriend admitted the stepson had borrowed her car during the month the killing had occurred. The detectives requested an NCIC off-line search to determine whether the vehicle had been queried within several days before or after the homicide. The search revealed that an agency in the county where the homicide occurred had made several inquiries. The detectives subsequently contacted the officer who requested the license check. His log indicated he had stopped the vehicle, questioned several occupants after seeing them drinking, and issued tickets. When this evidence was presented to the stepson, he confessed to the murder and also implicated the victim’s son. This NCIC search assisted in the arrest of two murderers.
4.) NCIC staff provided valuable lead information in an investigation of a missing female. The staff conducted a search on the missing person’s name and license plate for the five days before law enforcement officials had entered a record containing her personal data into the NCIC. The results included a query on the license plate from a neighboring police department while the vehicle was parked at a local motel. Law enforcement personnel checked the motel and found that the vehicle was still there. The motel’s desk clerk provided information that led the officers to a motel room where they found two men associated with the vehicle. They also found in the room a female who had been reported missing in a separate incident. The investigator’s search of the vehicle’s trunk revealed blood that was identified to be that of the owner who was then presumed to be a homicide victim. The police held the two men as murder suspects. The two subjects eventually entered into a plea agreement. Each pled guilty to one count of first-degree murder and one count of kidnapping. They were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Based on information provided by the murderers as a condition of the plea agreement, law enforcement officials subsequently recovered the body of the missing female.
5.) An FBI field division contacted NCIC staff to request a search concerning a kidnapping with a ransom demand. The staff searched NCIC for the victim’s name and license plate number from the date of last contact to the current day. The results indicated that Texas authorities had queried the license plate several times. The FBI agent contacted the officer who had conducted one of the license plate inquiries. The officer advised him that the driver of the vehicle was suspected of robbing a convenience store and that officers had been following the vehicle throughout the day. The driver was the lone occupant of the vehicle, and his physical description was very similar to that of the alleged kidnapping victim. The agent sent photographs and other pertinent information to Texas to assist the officers in the robbery investigation. Following a second robbery, the suspect led law enforcement officers on a high-speed car chase that ended when the suspect’s vehicle crashed. Officers could not use a photograph of the suspect taken at the time of the accident because facial injuries suffered by the suspect in the crash left him unrecognizable by witnesses. However, a photo provided by the FBI from the kidnapping investigation was then shown to the witnesses. They identified the suspect, and law enforcement officers issued a warrant and formally arrested the suspect on two counts of robbery and one count of extortion for the fabricated kidnapping.
As evidenced by the above success stories, since its inception NCIC has operated under a shared management concept between the FBI and local, tribal, state and federal criminal justice agencies. The general policy concerning the philosophy, concept, and operational principles of NCIC are based upon the recommendations of the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division Advisory Policy Board (APB) to the Director of the FBI. Top administrators from criminal justice agencies throughout the United States make up the APB.
“The importance of the CJIS Advisory Policy Board to the planning, implementation, and enhancement of national criminal justice systems cannot be understated. It is through this process that we are able to work in partnership with the FBI, and each other, to sustain and enhance systems such as NCIC. This is a very large responsibility because the bottom line is NCIC has a direct impact on protecting law enforcement personnel and the American people, said Paul C. Heppner, Deputy Director for the Georgia Crime Information Center, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Chairman of the CJIS APB.
To learn more about NCIC, please visit the FBI web site at /about-us/cjis/ncic.