Seattle - May 26, 2000 - High-ranking officials from the Republic of South Africa today thanked Attorney General Christine Gregoire for providing the country with expertise and designs for building a crime-information database that can help South Africa fight its rampant crime problems.
The system would be similar to Washington’s Homicide Investigation Tracking System (HITS), a computerized repository of crime information developed and maintained by the Attorney General’s Office. HITS has proven effective in helping Washington law enforcement uncover crime patterns, which in turn can lead to the apprehension of criminal suspects.
"We are extremely pleased to be able to share our expertise and crime-fighting tools with the people of South Africa as they fight back against the common criminals who are now causing so much pain and misery in that country," Gregoire said.
Thanking the Attorney General’s Office for its help in combating crime, South African Minister of Justice Penuell Maduna said that South Africa’s crime problems are not merely a local phenomenon.
"It is a universal result of globalization, and we trust that our successes in crime prevention will benefit the United States as much as our own communities, and that our alliance will ultimately improve the quality of life throughout the global village," Maduna said.
The HITS system was developed after experiences with the Ted Bundy and Green River murder cases demonstrated that law enforcement needed a way to track multiple crimes committed by the same person in widely separated locations.
Under HITS, local police agencies submit information about crimes occurring in their jurisdictions. That information is entered into the HITS database, where it can be analyzed to determine if crimes with similar characteristics have occurred elsewhere. The results can then be shared among investigators.
Data from more than 6,400 murder investigations and more than 7,200 sexual assaults has been collected through HITS.
With a population of 45 million people, South Africa’s crime problems are enormous. Approximately 25,000 murders and more than 1 million rapes occur each year – more than in the entire United States, which has a population 12 times that of South Africa.
Before settling on HITS, South Africa conducted a worldwide search for computer expertise that it could use in fighting crime. The AG’s HITS program is widely recognized for using computers in innovative ways to prevent and solve crimes.
Besides South Africa, the AG’s Office has shared information about setting up HITS-type systems with as many as 50 law enforcement agencies, including some in Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Australia.
In addition to sharing expertise, the AG’s office provides law enforcement with designs for the computer forms they can use to enter specific data in their crime database. The computer hardware and software necessary to actually enter, store and analyze such data must be purchased separately by the agencies wishing to develop HITS-type systems.
In South Africa, such a database would be maintained by the country’s national police force.
The decision to assist South Africa was made after consulting with U.S. State Department officials, who encouraged and supported the transfer of information.
Members of the South African delegation traveled to Seattle to thank Gregoire after meeting earlier this week in Washington, D.C. with members of the FBI and other Justice
Department officials. Among other things, the U.S. South African officials discussed the FBI’s current training of a group of South African law enforcement recruits at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.
Those making the trip to Seattle included Maduna, Minister of Safety and Security Stephen Tshwete, Director General-Justice Vusi Pikoli, and Head of Operations for Special Investigations Reuben Richards.