aside from the gruesome forensic evidence and the nickname of a
potential suspect, they had little else to lead them to whodunit.
"We had 'Shorty' and not much else," says Schultz, remembering
the case and the scarcity of investigative leads.
That was until they plugged in some of the data on their
Within a few hours, the detectives nabbed their suspect.
Sound impossible? It would have been, if not for a new software
package that is helping law enforcement take big bites out of
Like Google, But for
The software they used is CopLink, made by Knowledge Computing,
which lets the police link their databases together and search them
simultaneously, even across different departments.
Company CEO Bob Griffin walked a visitor through the process.
"This is the way police would actually be using CopLink," he
says, typing in the nickname of a suspect. Police simply type in
some clues a nickname, a location of the crime, a weapon used,
even what seems to be the most insignificant piece of information.
The program will then search out any relevant matches.
"It has a set of analytics that allow you to understand that this
person has a relationship to this person who may have a relationship
to this vehicle that may have a relationship to this gun," says
Hsinchun Chen, an artificial intelligence expert and professor at
the University of Arizona, says CopLink's capabilities are
astounding. The software uses specific algorithms that build a kind
of digital bridge, according to its creator, from one platform to
"From data to information, information to intelligence, and from
intelligence you can derive knowledge," he says.
"A search previously I might have been able to do in two or three
weeks time, I can now do within two or three minutes," says
Petersen. "It's just phenomenal."
More CopLink Users, More
The Tucson Police Department was the first in the nation to use
the technology. Several more have signed on since, and now dozens of
other jurisdictions are examining whether they want to deploy it.
Even the FBI and CIA have expressed interest.
Washington, D.C.-area law enforcement officials say software like
this could have dramatically cut down the time it took to arrest the
sniper suspects last year. That's because police could have simply
typed in the locations of all the shootings and asked the software
to return any relevant data connected to those locations.
Knowledge Computing's Griffin says police would have instantly
seen that the two suspects later arrested in connection with the
sniper killings had been stopped for unrelated incidents at several
of the locations where victims had been shot. It would not have
named the two men who were later arrested as suspects in the sniper
case, "but it would have given police a place to start. It would
have turned them in their direction," says Griffin.
As more agencies sign on to use the system, the bigger the
searchable database becomes, making the software even more valuable
"It is a blessing," says Schultz.
CopLink won't solve the puzzle, he admits, but it should give him
all the pieces he'll need.
As for "Shorty," who had been released from prison only 24 hours
before the Tucson attack, he's back in an Arizona prison, serving an
additional 16 years for the attempted murder.