Law enforcement data streamlined with Coplink

Police blotter

It is a lot easier for police agencies throughout the area to
communicate thanks to an sharing system that links more than 31
police organizations throughout South County and the Central
Coast.
It is a lot easier for police agencies throughout the area to communicate thanks to an sharing system that links more than 31 police organizations throughout South County and the Central Coast.

Known as a “node,” the informational link allows the police departments to share information regarding criminals and ongoing investigations, Hollister Police Sgt. David Westrick said. The program, also known as Coplink, allows the departments to consolidate the information to one database. The current agreement is committed for three years after it was implemented on June 21 – after that it will be re-evaluated.

Since November, investigators at the Gilroy Police Department have been using the Coplink system to share information easier with the Morgan Hill Police Department and the San Jose Police Department. Previously, all three agencies used different data systems, but Coplink streamlines the process while each agency can retain their same data system.

“Crime is transitory so being able to look through other databases is a great help,” said GPD Sergeant Chad Gallacinao.

The program also includes the Hollister Police Department, San Benito County Sheriff’s offices and agencies from Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

“Member agencies shall work cooperatively to establish an integrated system of information technology that maximizes the sharing of data and communication between the member agencies while maintaining the confidentiality of privileged or otherwise protected information shared through the system,” according to the agreement, which is labeled as the South Bay Information Sharing System.

The tool is managed and stored by the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office, but the San Benito County sheriff and Hollister police chief are members of the 11-person board of directors that oversees issues with the node. To take part in the Coplink system, agencies must commit to contributing data to the record system and must pay a cost based upon the “member population,” according to the agreement.

Funding from the 2008 Homeland Security Grant Program paid for the hardware infrastructure, data integration and three years maintenance, but members will need to pay starting in the second year.

Funding made available from an Urban Areas Security Initiative grant, part of Homeland Security, will fund Coplink this year. Starting next July, if GPD decides to continue with the program, they will pay $2,000 for the next five years from their operating budget, said Lindley Zink, with the Santa Clara County Sherrif’s Office. On the sixth year, the grant expires. Zink said GPD would then pay $6,000 to keep the program unless they get a new grant to pick up the costs.

Staff writer Conor Ramey contributed to this report.

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