Kocis explained that the RIIC, which began operations in 2013, has about 1,500 users among all the police departments in both counties, as well as the Pennsylvania State Police and several federal agencies. Basically, it collects the data generated by all local police departments, the counties, jails, state police, mug shots, state warrants, social media and even the dark web. Officers, with the assistance of analysts, can use this treasure trove of data to identify trends and solve crimes.
The RIIC employs four analysts, two detectives, an administrative assistant and Kocis. It has received over $5 million in grants from government and private sources to develop software. Its annual budget is $1.3 million. Operational costs like personnel are largely funded by Lehigh County.
Northampton County's contribution is just $100,000.
York County participates in the RIIC, but its use is currently limited to identification of drug overdoses.
Kocis said she'd welcome participation from other counties.
DA Terry Houck explained that use of the RIIC is what led his office to the Allentown drug dealer who dealt a Christmas Day death to a former Pen Argyl wrestler.
Though larger police departments might use the RIIC more heavily, Nazareth Police Chief Randall Miller explained that the RIIC is a great benefit to smaller departments like his as well.
Bu using the RIIC, his department recently discovered that two Latin Kings are living in a Nazareth apartment complex. The RIIC has given him leads in a recent rare borough shooting.And it weeded out a possible child predator.
Miller explained that his department received complaints that a crossing guard was making inappropriate contacts with children. This guard had no criminal record for child molestation. But thanks to the RIIC, his department discovered that the guard had been under investigation in two other local police departments for sexual abuse of children. He indicated the only reason these departments filed no charges was because the statute of limitations had run. Without the RIIC, his department would never have known about these previous investigations. This "could have put Nazareth in a very bad situation," he noted.
So if Lori Vargo-Heffner wants to know whether the $100,000 is money well spent, perhaps she should speak to the parents of those Nazareth children.
Instead, Vargo-Heffner wants a specific breakdown on the RIIC's annual budget.