May 12, 2014

Expanded regional effort to gather crime data

MALONE — The U.S. Department of Criminal Justice Services is dedicating money to hire three additional people to staff a five-county intelligence-sharing center in Malone.

Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne said money has been set aside to hire a director and two more analysts to share crime information with other law-enforcement agencies in Clinton, St. Lawrence, Essex, and Jefferson counties.

Sharing details of crimes such as burglaries among upstate communities can help police determine if there are links between fresh or unsolved cases with similar patterns.

They can also track criminal activity that spills over from one jurisdiction to another.

“I feel this is a tremendous way for law enforcement to connect the dots,” Champagne told county legislators recently.

There has never been this kind of in-depth, information-gathering coordination between federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies in the North Country, the DA said.

And he said it is about time the region had this, since the closest center among the sites set up in New York City, Utica, Westchester and Albany is 200 to 300 miles away.

“There is a huge hole in the North Country,” he said, for sharing crime-related information, but Champagne is hoping to expand that with the added intelligence-center staffing.

The DA said he would be able to save on rent if the intelligence center is housed at the former U.S. Army Reserve Center on Finney Boulevard, which he hopes to obtain through government-surplus channels.

If that falls through, Champagne said, he could continue to use the intelligence site he has now, which is housed in an undisclosed location.

Crime in New York City has declined since its center was initiated, Champagne said, and he is confident the same thing could happen here.

“We need to get into the intelligence business.”

Email Denise A. Raymo:

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