Case Study: TXDPS CRS Website Provides Instant Access to Criminal Records
Client: Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Record Service
Industry: Law Enforcement/Public Safety, Government
Project Life: 1997-Present
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is one of the “Big Seven” state agencies headquartered in Austin, Texas, and is the principle agency responsible for maintaining public safety in the state. DPS strives to protect lives, rights, and property of all Texans.
In 1997, the 75th legislature passed a bill requiring DPS to make criminal history records available via the Internet. Furthermore, the legislature empowered the agency to charge a small fee to cover costs. DPS quickly realized that the only way to distribute the information in a cost-effective manner was to put information online. Microassist won the DPS contract to create a web-based solution to distribute criminal records. The 76th legislature expanded the role of the site to include free access to sex offender records and access to private information by authorized organizations and users.
In 1997, Microassist successfully created and launched the DPS website, enabling for the first time, instant access to Texas criminal records and history. The DPS site was also one of the first State of Texas sites to be bilingual. Microassist redesigned the site to display menu options, prompts, and text in both English and Spanish.
The website allows users to search over 25 million criminal records, for a minimal fee, and processes more than $2 million a year in check and credit card transactions. Microassist’s e-commerce server, which processes the credit card transactions, is certified by VITAL.
The Criminal Records/Sex Offender also site meets both PCI and CJIS security standards, necessary because of the sensitive, non-public data, as well as its e-commerce functions.
Growth of Project
Since 1997, the scope of Microassist’s services for Texas DPS has grown substantially. Microassist has designed and implemented a wide variety of systems for Crime Records Service and for the Drivers License division, and continues to maintain those systems.
- Crime Records Service Applications — The CRS and Secure website was originally implemented on January 1, 1998, with the conviction and felony deferred adjudication information. It has added new programs and functionality over the past sixteen (16) years. All associated applications are accessed via a website that is operational 24 x 7 x 365.
- Public Sex Offender Registration Database and Application (PSOR) — The Public Sex Offender Registration Database contains public information extracted from the Department’s Sex Offender Registration Database. All information in PSOR is open to the public except: an offender’s home telephone number, social security number, driver’s license number, and any information required by the Department for law enforcement purposes (this identified non-public information is not-inclusive and is subject to change). This site has a monthly average of 1,100,000 hits.
- Secure Sex Offender Registration Database and Application (SSOR) — The Secure Sex Offender Registration Database allows law enforcement agencies to search, view, verify, and update sex offender registration information in a more timely and secure manner, thereby increasing the accuracy of the Texas Sex Offender Registry. The application also formats transactions submitted to the FBI via web service and TCIC/NCIC transaction formats. The Department has over 1,600 authorized users.
- Public Computerized Criminal History Database and Application (PCCH) — The Conviction Database is public record information extracted from the Department’s Computerized Criminal History System (CCH). The information contained in CCH is only public if a conviction or deferred adjudication has been reported to the Department as an offense. This site has a monthly average of 25,000,000 hits.
- Secure Computerized Criminal History Database and Application (SCCH) — The Secure CCH Database allows authorized criminal and noncriminal justice entities, based on access levels, to search and access all criminal history information for employment purposes. The Department has over 18,000 authorized users and a monthly average of 660,000 searches.
- Fingerprint-based Applicant Clearinghouse of Texas Database and Application (FACT) — The FACT Clearinghouse is a repository of the Department’s and FBI’s fingerprint-based criminal history results. The FACT Clearinghouse allows an authorized entity access to a consolidated response of the Department and FBI criminal history fingerprint results, including an electronic subscription and notification service for new arrest activity on subscribed persons. The Department processes an average of 25,000 subscription notifications a month.
- Uniform Crime Reporting Database and Application (UCR) — The UCR Website is public record information extracted from the Department’s UCR databases. One database (Summary) contains data that is submitted to the Department via paper submissions, which, in turn, must be data-entered into the database by the Department. The other database (NIBRS – National Incident-based Reporting System) contains data that is submitted to the Department via electronic submissions. This information is collected and submitted by participating local Texas law enforcement agencies. The objective of the UCR program is to produce reliable crime statistics for law enforcement administration, operation, and management. However; this data is utilized by many other entities, including legislators, statisticians and the general public.
- Billing and Service Invoice System Database and Application (BASIS) — This program is used to track all CRS services and generate invoices, collection of payments, and reconciliation. This program currently interfaces with the following programs: the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, the Fingerprint Applicant Service of Texas, Sex Offender Registration and the Computerized Criminal History file.
- CRS Website Administration Application (CRSWAA) — This administration application is used to manage user accounts, send secure messages to users, log transactions for auditing purposes and generate multiple status reports for all database and applications accessed via the CRS website.
- Secure Computerized Criminal History and Secure Sex Offender ELearning Training Modules (CCH&SSO E-Learning) — These training modules provide online training to site users. The training provides orientation for new site users. It currently covers security, record retrieval and modification, and state and federal laws on dissemination.
- Texas Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS) / National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) — TIBRS contains UCR data that is submitted to the Department via electronic submissions, whereas Uniform Crime Reporting Database and Application (UCR) contains the data that is submitted via paper submissions and must be data-entered into the system. The TIBRS/NIBRS database contains approximately 50 additional crime elements that are not included in the UCR Summary side. TIBRS collects data on the circumstances of each crime incident in electronic form.
- CRS Legal Database (Legal Database) — This program is used to track all CRS expunction petitions from filing to disposition, the Department’s legal position, the status of the case, a legal rolodex for contacts within each jurisdiction, and a legal calendar to organize court dockets.
- CRS Mobile Application (Mobile App) — These iOS and Android releases are designed to give Texans instant access to the State’s Sex Offender Registry, Texas 10 Most Wanted program and other valuable resources. The app is free to download, and is available for iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets. The app allows users to submit tips for wanted fugitives and report suspicious behavior from their mobile devices. In addition, app users can view location-based information about human trafficking, registered sex offenders and more.
- Regulatory Services Division Applications — Public and secure web application, operational 24 x 7 x 365, built on proven CRS platforms.
- Texas Online Metals (RSD-TOM) — The Secure Texas Online Metals (TOM) registration application allows authorized personnel, Metals Recycling Entities (MRE’s), and the public, based on access levels, to register, manage registrations, report recycling transactions, search and access all MRE and reported transaction information for regulatory, investigative, industry, and public information purposes. This information is submitted by MRE’s and used by participating law enforcement entities.
- Precious Metals Registration (OCCC-PMR) — This Public and secure web application is hosted by the Department, for the Office of Consumer Credit Commission (OCCC). (January 1, 2012) The Secure Precious Metal Dealer Program Database allows authorized personnel, Metals Dealers, and the public, based on access levels, to register, manage registrations, report transactions, search and access all Precious Metal and reported transaction information for regulatory, investigative, industry, and public information purposes. This information is submitted by metal dealers and used by participating law enforcement entities.
- Driver License Division — Public and secure web application, operational 24 x 7 x 365, built on proven CRS platforms.
- Impact Texas Driver Database and Application (ITD) — Host the Impact Texas Driver Program web site/application where driving schools and students taking a driver education course can download videos, and access interactive activities and reading modules as part of a requirement they must meet in order to take a driver’s license test. A certificate with a unique certificate number, which will have a validity of two years, will be issued at the completion of this program. The database stores the certificate numbers indexed to specific name, DL number and Driver Education certificate number. Students can log back into this website and reprint the certificate anytime up to two years from the sign-up date. The current system allows students under 18 to access the system and download videos, access interactive activities and reading modules to meet Driver License requirements. The future requirements will apply to students 18 to 24. The system will be expanded to provide access to a second course for students age 18 to 24.
- The site has become one of the most successful e-commerce sites for the State of Texas and has been profiled in national magazines including PC Magazine and Wired.
- The Site receives over 2 million hits and approximately 200,000 user sessions per month.
- The cost of getting criminal records information has been reduced from $10/query to $3.15/query
- The time of getting criminal records information has been reduced from weeks to seconds.
- The DPS website has become an indispensable tool for institutions like schools, retirement homes, law offices, etc. across the state.
- Average weekly updates of 500,000 records are accomplished using Microsoft SQL replication
- Law enforcement officials now have the flexibility of instantly updating the criminal history website with new photos, information and profiles. Updated information is available to the public in matter of 15 minutes.