Fighting crime with Slack

How the Hartford Police Department gathers intelligence in real time

Shots are fired midday on Park Street in Hartford, Connecticut. At the Hartford Police Department’s Capital City Crime Center (known as C4) — a technology-driven, real-time crime and data intelligence center — a team of analysts uses a combination of audio transmitted from the ShotSpotter software system, along with video from nearby security cameras, to map the location of the incident as units are responding.

They grab a visual of the suspect and pass that information onto Detective Steven Citta, who’s responsible for gathering and sharing intelligence to local police units as well as partners in units and agencies across the entire state.

 

“We use Slack to track and share intelligence regarding felonies and pattern crimes,” says Citta. “We have a pretty violent city and a rise in narcotics trafficking, so we use Slack to push out a lot of information about violent crime suspects and generally people who are a threat to our residents or a threat to law enforcement.”

 

Units communicate over radios while responding, meanwhile C4 personnel post intelligence collected by analysts to the #department-wide channel in Slack. As the shooter takes off, C4 provides field officers with up-to-the-minute updates on the whereabouts of the shooter and his description, which they use to locate, positively identify, and arrest him only a few streets away.

“We use Slack to track and share intelligence regarding felonies and pattern crimes,” says Citta. “We have a pretty violent city and a rise in narcotics trafficking, so we use Slack to push out a lot of information about violent crime suspects and generally people who are a threat to our residents or a threat to law enforcement.”

Not long ago, details about suspects were handed out on flyers, only to end up crinkled and stuffed into the visors of police cruisers. Later, daily email bulletin blasts solved the distribution problem but still couldn’t keep pace with events as they happened in the real world.

These days, the Hartford Police Department’s intelligence sharing is primarily coordinated over Slack with more than 450 investigators and officers from all over the state.

 

multiple police units coordinating on slack
Investigators from multiple police units coordinate intelligence around a suspect’s whereabouts.

 

Tracking suspicious activity statewide

Citta notes that the way law enforcement units have organized themselves in Slack mirrors the way they work in the real world, with police officers and investigators statewide congregating in channels like #narcotics, #crimes, and #ctwide-intel. The #BOLO< channel (code for “Be on the lookout”) is like a communal bulletin board where officers post information about suspects they’re looking for who might be on the move.

“We had detectives from a neighboring town put up two photos of suspects because they were tied to a recent homicide,” says Citta. “Literally within 20 minutes we had both of those people identified by officers in other units and were able to make the arrest.”

Citizen safety being their chief concern, Citta and the team have integrated the Cronofy calendar app into one of their channels so the entire department is automatically updated about large community events and gatherings happening in the area. Everyday at 8 a.m., everyone in the channel receives a list of events, like a “daily dossier,” which the team can then discuss and decide how to staff and monitor for potential security threats.

 

“With Slack, we’re better able to trail a suspect’s activity across multiple geographic areas,” explains Citta. “When it comes time to prosecute, we can build a much better case and make sure they’re sentenced accordingly.”

 

There are also channels for tracking specific crimes, like a recent rash of ATM robberies sweeping the state. The team created the #dd_burglaries channel to combat a multi-jurisdictional pattern of burglaries of over two dozen Dunkin Donuts locations. The #dd_burglaries channel was instrumental in coordinating between all the investigating agencies, some of which extended outside of Connecticut. And the suspects were ultimately caught and arrested.

According to Citta, funneling intelligence about a certain pattern in one channel has made police units more efficient at identifying key players and the wider network of people associated with a crime. But it’s also had a big impact on their ability to get criminals prosecuted more effectively.

“With Slack, we’re better able to trail a suspect’s activity across multiple geographic areas,” explains Citta. “When it comes time to prosecute, we can build a much better case and make sure they’re sentenced accordingly.”

 

The Hartford Public Safety Complex
The Hartford Public Safety Complex is the headquarters for the city’s police department, fire marshal’s office, fire administration offices, community risk reduction office, and dispatch center

 

Expanding intelligence sharing to more police units

Citta makes it a point to mention that not all kinds of intelligence is shared on Slack. They’re careful not to share any classified information and details about criminal informants for the protection of everyone involved. Slack is mostly used for sharing real-time information about suspects’ whereabouts and activities.

Their Slack team currently hosts more than 450 members across 75 agencies and 4 States. More units are catching on. Citta recently brought on parole and probation officers, as they tend to supervise people who have committed crimes and are often really helpful in identifying suspects.

“We’re identifying and apprehending suspects much more efficiently, we’re recovering stolen vehicles faster, and we are communicating more effectively than we ever have before,” says Citta. “Slack has changed the way we serve our community.”

Over and out.


Lima Al-Azzeh has watched more seasons of CSI than she cares to publicly admit.

 

Visit Slack to see how we can help you and your team get more done together.

 

Slack is the collaboration hub, where the right people are always in the loop and key information is always at their fingertips. Teamwork in Slack happens in channels — searchable conversations that keep work organized and teams better connected.