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Use of Computers in Arson Investigation

NCJ Number
R H Buffington; F J Keller; W M Logan; W A Wilson; F E Yocum
Date Published
8 pages
Examples of how computers are used in arson investigation are provided, and suggestions for expanded use of computers are presented.
The National Fire Data System, a State-based system, involves local fire departments' filling out forms that identify fires, their causes and casualty data. The State agency transfers these data to the Federal Government. American Insurance Association system, once complete, will collect reports of individual insurance adjusters nationwide. Information will include the claimant, his/her attorney or public adjuster, and the mortgage company and insurance company involved. Another example of the use of computers in arson investigation is underway at the Phoenix Fire Department (Arizona). The system features preventive and postfire components to gather and analyze information to combat arson. A word processor provides automated storage and retrieval of data from local fire investigations dating back to 1976. Data on all fires investigated, arson suspects, and insurance are currently provided by the system. The National Crime Information Computer can provide information on local arson suspects, including a complete background record and any wants and warrants. The department of motor vehicle computer can be used to trace a car registration observed by a witness at an arson scene or to obtain additional information on a suspect. There is a need for an information center to provide general information on arson, including information for training in the arson investigation field, field techniques for the identification of fire causes, and the availability of laboratories. The development of the microcomputer promises to give even the smallest police and fire departments access to the information now available to only the large and well-financed arson squads. Two footnotes are listed.


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