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Retired KC Sheriff’s Office detective: Without LInX, violent crimes go unsolved

A retired King County Sheriff's Office detective says access to the LinX database is critical for officers. (AP)

With loss of the LInX database, more violent criminals will endanger the streets, according to a retired King County Sheriff’s Office detective.

Last week, it was announced that the King County Sheriff’s Office is relinquishing its membership in the LInX database, a national network of information on criminals and suspects for law enforcement agencies to upload, exchange, and access data. The sheriff’s office’s stated reason was fear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement could attain information from the network and use it in deportations.

Access to database for police to fight crime has been shut off

“If I’m a Kent police officer and I want to know what’s happening — I’m looking for a specific incident or a trend — I can look at information that the Bellingham Police Department has downloaded,” retired King County Sheriff’s Detective Jon Holland explained of LInX. “So I can look regionally for suspects by doing various searches.”

These searches can be made with names, birth dates, case numbers, ages, and even nicknames. One can think of it like filing a public records request, except that those records are all immediately available.

Dori: By dropping LInX, Sheriff’s Office puts deputies, public at risk

“There’s no question that the intelligence and incident reports and data that a police officer or detective can extract from that database is invaluable,” Holland told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

Holland, who spent 30 years in law enforcement and was even featured in the U.K.’s The Guardian, knows whereof he speaks; he himself has used the LInX system on countless occasions.

Contrary to popular opinion, police departments and sheriff’s offices throughout the state are not connected with a constant back-and-forth flow of information. This means that if a police officer has only a physical description and name of a homicide suspect, there is almost no other way to touch base with so many other agencies at one time to try to get leads on the person.

“This is really one of the only vehicles that does connect law enforcement agencies,” he said.

In an email to King County Sheriff’s Office employees, Undersheriff Scott Somers acknowledged the importance of LInX to officers.

I know that this is going to impact our ability to efficiently access information for conducting investigations and support other function. We have started discussions with other Law Enforcement [sic] agencies about tying records systems together in a regional system to support inquiries … We acknowledge and understand the impact to many of you who use this resource as part of your work on a daily basis.

“I find that very unfortunate and sad to hear,” Holland said of Somers’ email.

Holland reiterated that this is not about minor-level thefts and other low-level crimes — this is about finding the perpetrators of serious violent crimes that put the community in danger. He hopes that the decision will soon be reversed.

“It does affect public safety, it does affect the ability for detectives and officers on the street to do their jobs quickly and efficiently,” he said. “It does affect the ability to gather intelligence and information, and it has a wide-ranging negative impact.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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