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Budget paves way for statewide information sharing for police

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Tuesday’s executive budget proposal address included a $10 million initiative from the Cuomo administration to create a statewide police information database.

The New York State Protection Cloud is designed to make it quicker and easier for local police departments to share information across jurisdictions.

John Grebert, executive director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, says the initiative will allow local police departments to access an abundance of information regardless of size or resources.

“There’s no question that the concept is a great one. People in law enforcement have been talking about an information system where everybody can share information, they’ve been talking about it for two or three decades at least. And now it really seems it’s going to come to pass in New York state," Grebert says.

“It just results in police departments being able to make better decisions all along the way through an investigation. It’s going to increase the chance that we get the person responsible in the first place, and it’s also going to decrease the chance that the wrong person ever gets arrested too.”

If approved, the system would be rolled out over the next four years with estimated savings of up to $12 million annually for the state.

Grebert says the database will contain a range of information, including day-to-day information from police stations.

As long as appropriate safeguards are put in place, he says hacking and misuse of the system shouldn’t be a concern.

In fact, Grebert says the system will improve local infrastructure by aggregating information from a range of incompatible sources.

“Right now there’s a lot of different information gathering systems in place and in most cases they can’t talk to each other, so just by going to this cloud system local police departments are going to have the chance to save some money but to vastly improve the quality of information, and to vastly increase the amount of information that you have access to,” Grebert says.

Last August, Cuomo signed a bill requiring DNA samples to be collected from anyone in the state convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.

Grebert says there have been no issues with abuse of information in that database, or in other existing information gathering systems.

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail