The Washington State Attorney General's Homicide Investigation Tracking System (HITS) comprises investigators and the HITS database—a software application designed to store crime-related information voluntarily contributed by police and sheriffs’ departments in the Pacific Northwest. The database acts as a central repository for detailed information on violent crimes occurring in Washington and Oregon.
The most outstanding feature of the HITS computer is its ability to analyze large quantities of violent crime information quickly. Data is entered on standard forms that are provided to law enforcement to facilitate the uniform collection of crime information. The system primarily is used to gather information on violent or potentially violent cases, including murders, attempted murders, missing persons (in which foul play is suspected), sexual assaults, sex-related vice and sex crimes committed by sexual predators (both known and unknown to victims). Use of standard reporting forms makes it easy to expand the system to include other types of crimes such as arsons, gang-related crimes, etc.
Development of HITS began in 1987 in response to a need identified by cases involving notorious murderers such as Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer. Such cases emphasized the fact that criminals have no respect for boundaries. Whether by design or accident, they often commit many types of crimes across many different jurisdictions.
The original funding to develop HITS came from a National Institute of Justice grant to study the salient characteristics of murder. HITS' success was apparent even before all of the collected data had been entered. As a result, the Washington State Legislature in 1991 mandated that HITS also track all violent crimes, including sex crimes.
The level of interstate cooperation in sharing violent crime information exemplified by HITS is unique to the Pacific Northwest. Without question, HITS has been responsible for enhancing public safety throughout the region.
To collect, analyze, link, and then provide law enforcement with information that will facilitate the resolution of violent crimes and speed the apprehension and prosecution of violent criminals.
HITS OPERATIONAL FUNCTIONS
Homicide database by victim, offender, and MO
Sexual assault database by victim, offender, and MO
Registered sex offender database, including historical information regarding addresses
Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Licensing databases with full or limited information: partial license plates; vehicle by description, owner, or address; DOL with limited personal identifiers
Department of Corrections by name, description, or crime
HITS bulletins include information on homicides, sexual assaults, missing persons where foul play is suspected, officer safety, and training.
CJD bulletins include information on other crimes such as burglaries, robberies, assaults, endangered missing persons, and training.
Research using several public and law enforcement databases
Referrals of expert resources in forensic disciplines that may become relevant to investigations
Case analysis, advice, and review of homicide and sexual assault cases
Facilitation of multi-agency investigations and assistance in formation of investigative groups and task forces
Training on homicide investigation and related violent crime subjects
Assigned to geographical regions, the Attorney General's HITS investigators collect homicide, sexual assault, and missing persons data. The data is then analyzed to determine possible linkages. These investigators possess combined investigative experience in violent crimes in excess of 100 years. They are a primary resource to local law enforcement because of their homicide background, experience, and technical expertise. They often are called upon to review cases and to provide a new perspective on investigations. HITS services are offered free to local law enforcement.