In 2001 a number of agencies along the I-4 corridor decided to move forward with the idea of electronic information sharing between law enforcement agencies. The initial idea was to leverage the existing relationships between the agencies in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) task force along the I-4 corridor to facilitate the sharing of law enforcement data. These first five agencies chose to use a partnership between law enforcement and the University of Central Florida to help develop a statewide information sharing program. This collaborative effort began in 2002 and, in July of 2003, the first agencies were connected and began to share information using the Florida Integrated Network for Data Exchange and Retrieval (“FINDER”). The FINDER system was designed and built to be flexible and scalable to facilitate growth and operational changes in the law enforcement process.
The Florida Law Enforcement Data Sharing Consortium (“Consortium”) was created in August of 2003 with the goal of bringing together law enforcement agencies to collaborate on the development of software to meet the needs of investigators, not only with a terrorism nexus, but with an “all crimes” approach. It was equally important to ensure the effort would produce a system that would remain affordable and user friendly. Leveraging technology and inter-agency collaboration to assist in the investigative process was giving law enforcement what it needed to counter growing crime trends. It was apparent the “grass roots” approach was going to be the best model to reach the member agencies’ goals, and the Consortium was the catalyst for continued success.
In May of 2004, after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement created the Regional Data Sharing Task Force (RDSTF), FINDER was selected as the regional solution for RDSTF Region 5. However, a large number of agencies outside of Region 5 also saw the value of having the FINDER program to share data across the State of Florida. To those agencies connected via FINDER and participating in the Consortium, the successes in catching criminals and recovering stolen property, along with the genuine cost benefit to their agency, proved fruitful in serving the citizens of their respective jurisdictions.
In September of 2007, the Center for Law Enforcement Technology, Training & Research, Inc. (“LETTR”) was formed as a not-for-profit corporation to ensure the maintenance and continued growth of the FINDER program. LETTR is the sole owner of the IP relating to the FINDER software, and the company continues to hold Consortium meetings regularly to educate member agencies about new program features and to seek user feedback which drives future software development. Our software developers and engineers have been with us since the inception of the FINDER project in 2002.
LETTR was formed BY law enforcement FOR law enforcement. Our board members and executive staff include current and former law enforcement officers who have over 200 years of combined law enforcement experience which guides and motivates us to provide the best tools possible for today’s law enforcement personnel. LETTR is solely dedicated to the public safety community, with the purpose of eliminating exorbitant pricing for technology that facilitates the apprehension of criminals. The purposeful establishment of a not-for-profit corporation was critical to working with public funding from law enforcement entities. We don’t chase cash; we chase bad guys.
Our uncommon desire to succeed, and to provide useful crime solving tools with development input from the end users, has created positive working relationships with law enforcement agencies across the State of Florida. LETTR will never take for granted the trust of law enforcement agencies to deliver quality, affordable software which assists them in the daily process of protecting and serving the people within their jurisdictions. Our loyalty to the standards of law enforcement has never been compromised at LETTR, and the respect of the law enforcement agencies we serve is something we strive to earn every day. We appreciate what a serious responsibility it is to serve the public safety sector and consider it a privilege to do so.
FINDER® is a registered service mark owned by the Center for Law Enforcement Technology, Training & Research, Inc.