April 11, 2007
A new weapon to fight crime provides a better way for law enforcement to share information across borders.
It's new to our area and comes from Homeland Security money.
CSRA IntelliNET will take leads from different counties and combine it under one computer database. That means officers can find a suspect in minutes rather than weeks or months or even longer.
Two years have passed since a fiery car crash took the life of Chauntilena Battle's brother, Tramode Holmes.
Deputies are still looking for Rodriques Jones, who's accused of drinking and driving a Pontiac into a tree, with Tramode inside.
"We miss him so much," Chauntilena said. "We just want justice."
She has new hope of finding justice thanks to Coplink. It will take all the evidence from Burke County, where the incident happened, and put it into a database.
That means Jones' mug shot, criminal history, addresses, nicknames, and other leads will be available to any agency in this area.
"We'll have it at our fingertips from this point forward," said Lt. Andrew Shedd of Columbia County.
If Lt. Shedd catches anyone fitting Jones' description, he will be able to trace the suspect from Columbia County to the scene of the crash.
Local law enforcement leaders tell us that crime-fighting information will come at the click of a mouse instead of a trip across county lines.
"The whole point in us creating a partnership is so that we don't have to waste time," said Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt.
"When we're looking for one particular person, it will allow us to search much more quickly," said Lee Wetherington with North Augusta Public Safety.
Now, Chauntilena hopes this system will take any information from any of these counties and make connections that weren't always possible prior to this system.
"Until everything comes out and there's justice, there won't be closure for this family...at all."
People like Chauntilena could start to benefit from IntelliNET and Coplink within a year.
The $1.4 million grant will connect Columbia, Richmond, Burke, Edgefield, and Aiken counties, as well as the Aiken and North Augusta departments of public safety.
Any department across the country can share information as long as they have the system and they reach an agreement.
Local interest in IntelliNET came about during the two-state investigation of Reinaldo Rivera. He's since been convicted and given the death penalty.
Now, investigators say county lines or even state lines won't be a road block to catching criminals.