UA Computer Scientists Develop New Law Enforcement Search Engine

  • January 15th, 2003

Arrests, routine traffic stops and other daily law enforcement duties can be dangerous for police officers, but now they are becoming a little safer, faster and more accurate thanks to a new system developed by UA computer scientists.

The Law Enforcement Tactical System, or LETS, is a secure, Web-based search engine that allows law enforcement and criminal justice agencies to search numerous databases simultaneously, returning information in real time while it facilitates in-depth searches. Those searches can be done by personal or vehicular characteristics. The system was developed by UA’s CARE Research and Development Laboratory (CRDL) in 2002 and has grown rapidly.

“Officers in the field can find out who is driving a car they are following and can make a positive identification of people who do not have a driver’s license in their possession,” explained Dr. David Brown, computer science professor and director of development of the CRDL.

LETS also can check warrants and protection orders. Officers on the side of the road can gain access to these databases without having to radio the information to a dispatcher, who would then input it into one database at a time.

Brown works with Dr. Allen Parrish, associate professor of computer science and director of the CRDL, and Dr. Brandon Dixon, assistant professor of computer science, on the growing LETS project. Currently, there are about 3,000 users of the system, and an average of one database a month is being added.

The UA team is working with several agencies throughout the state to continue the development and implementation of LETS, including the Alabama Office of Law Enforcement Systems Integration and Standards, Department of Public Safety, Administrative Office of Courts, Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Direct financial support has come from the Southwest Alabama Integrated Criminal Justice System.

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.