Internet Police: Feds and Arizona Law Enforcment Data to be Exchanged Online

The computing capabilities of law enforcement upgraded today with the "completion" of AZLink, an Internet-based system of sharing federal and local data about criminals and illegal immigrants. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix says the program: ...allows connected partners to share investigative, booking, incarceration, weapon, drug, warrant, immigration status, and other law enforcement data in a secure cyber environment. It's a two-way street that also gives federal agencies instant access to street-level information and intelligence collected by state and local police.

Law officers could always obtain this information, presumably, if they waited a few hours or days. Now it's all about download speed. Do they all use 3G?

The feds give an example of how agents with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigating a "marijuana ring" in 2008 found out through a pilot version of AZLink that their quarry had a history of violence and weapons violations.

Armed with this information, ICE deployed the Tucson Special Response Team to serve the high risk warrant. Agents recovered numerous weapons, including a Thompson Machine Gun, over 1,000 pounds of marijuana and $21,000 in cash. Two suspects were arrested for drug and firearms offenses. What could have posed a major danger to these agents and officers ended with a peaceful arrest.

Used the other way, apparently, the system would notify local police when a motorist stopped for a traffic violation is an illegal immigrant. That will probably lead to many more undocumented residents being deported.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says the system has been tested in Tucson and is now being used throughout Southern Arizona. The rest of the state will be using it soon, officials says.

Looks like another example of the Obama administration's immigration reform.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.