An Interview with Ron Shave, Investigator
Orange County (CA) District Attorney's Office
Reprinted with Permission - 1998
askSam: Tell us about your organization and your role within it.
RON SHAVE: The DA's Office for years has successfully provided vertical prosecution units in the areas of homicide, sexual assaults, domestic violence and major frauds. This year, we extended the Homicide Unit's role of vertical prosecution and implemented a homicide and sexual assault database and task force review of unsolved murders in Orange County.
The unit, called TracKRS (Task Force Review Aimed at Catching Killers, Rapists and Sexual Offenders), has two primary objectives:
First, provide an easy-to-use, immediately available database of homicide and sexual assault information to the field investigators. We don't want the predators to slip through undetected, and ...
Second, in cooperation with the local agencies, facilitate review of unsolved cases involving female, sexually assaulted murder victims for the purpose of looking for fresh leads when compared to the MO's in the database and to have old evidence re-evaluated with new technology.
askSam: What is your work environment like?
RON SHAVE: The Santa Ana Police Department has provided six workstations and space for our NT server in their new criminal justice building. The 23 local police agencies access the network via dial-up connection to our server. Hopefully, within the year we will move to a law enforcement Intranet environment. (similar to Florida's CJNET)
askSam: Which of our product(s) do you use and what applications have you found for askSam?
RON SHAVE: We began using askSam for DOS in '86. The database assisted in the investigation of several complex murder investigations and when the offenders were prosecuted the investigation database and daily trial transcripts (in askSam) were available to the prosecutor at the counsel table.
Our TracKRS Project is based on the askSam 4.0 database engine. It permits our remote users access via a browser that passes the query through Active Server Pages in Internet Information Server that in turn queries the askSam search engine. The browser receives the response back in HTML. It is very quick, stable and flexible.
askSam: Why did you select askSam over other products?:
RON SHAVE: Our investigators have been patiently waiting for years for programs to meet their complex needs. Police gather enormous quantities of information that may or may not mean anything to their case. Other databases were either too structured or lacked the structure and flexibility necessary to sift through the data efficiently. askSam provides that balance of structure and freedom. askSam meets the requirements of the investigators assignment and may be programmed with the balance of structure and free-form text necessary.
askSam: In what way has askSam helped you in your daily routine?
RON SHAVE: Never before has an investigator been able to get immediate information regarding homicides and sexual assaults based on any known tidbit of information. TracKRS now makes this possible. When all the data is eventually accumulated, it is unlikely an offender could commit the same kind of crime without discovery.
askSam: How has askSam saved you time or money?
RON SHAVE: To build a database this flexible in any other language would require huge resources of time, people and money; and even then, I don't know if it would be possible.
askSam: What applications do you plan for askSam in the future?
RON SHAVE: If funding permits, we want to build a one-stop shopping center for investigators. Already, we offer an investigators phone directory and bulletin board. We hope to convert our case management database into the Intranet environment using askSam. That would permit remote agencies to participate in multi-agency investigations. Everybody would know exactly the details of related investigations as they are entered into the database. Also, gang crimes, robberies and burglaries are other crimes suitable for this kind of database. Only our imagination and finances are limiting factors.