NCIC (National Crime Information Center) (World of Forensic Science)
As part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is a national computerized repository system of criminal justice data used by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Now under the direction of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) division, located in the city of Clarksburg, West Virginia, the NCIC provides North American forensic science departments with search information for such data involving convicted sex offenders, fingerprint impressions, and missing persons.
The NCIC was created by the FBI in January 1967 in response to an alarming increase in crime within the United States. Recognizing that law enforcement agencies throughout the country needed instantaneous access to standardized criminal data, the FBI established a computer system and a telecommunications network to initially assist fifteen metropolitan and state regions with about 95,000 records in five databases (Wanted Persons, Stolen License Plates, Stolen or Missing Guns, Stolen Autos, and Other Identifiable Stolen Articles). By 1971, all of the U.S. states and the District of Columbia were part of the NCIC system. Then, in February 1992, the CJIS was created by the FBI in order to serve as the primary information repository for criminal justice data. The NCIC was consolidated under the jurisdiction of the CJIS, along with other relevant federal programs such as Fingerprint Identification and Uniform Crime Reporting.
Open around the clock, the NCIC is well equipped to search for a wide range of forensic data due to the use of its expanding number of databases that contain a growing amount of historical and current data. For example, by using the New York State Identification and Intelligence System, NCIC personnel are able to search for phonetically similar names (such as Clark and Clarke) or derivatives (such as William, Willy, and Billy). In addition, fingerprint searches of wanted and missing persons are made using stored images of the right index fingerprint. NCIC personnel can also search records within the Convicted Persons or Supervised Release File for suspects under probation and parole.
Photographs, commonly called mugshots, can be searched through a signature, fingerprint, or other identifying images (such as scars and tattoos). NCIC personnel can also search for digital images of physical possessions (such as automobiles and boats) associated with a suspect. Records of convicted sexual offenders and violent sexual predators can also be searched through a Convicted Sex Offender Registry. Convicts currently held in the U.S. federal prison system can be identified through the NCIC's Sentry file.
As of March 2005, the NCIC possesses more than ten million records in around seventeen database files (some recently added ones include Foreign Fugitive, Missing Persons, Violent Gang/Terrorist, Unidentified Persons, and U.S. Secret Service Protective) and about 24 million criminal history records contained in the Interstate Identification Index. In the business of law enforcement, the NCIC deals with more than 80 thousand law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.
SEE ALSO DNA databanks; DNA profiling; FBI (United States Federal Bureau of Investigation); Tattoo identification.