Nlets, the International Justice and Public Safety Network, is the primary conduit for the transfer of law enforcement data across the United States. Founded and owned by the 50 states, Nlets' user population also includes federal agencies with a law enforcement component and select international agencies. Data types exchanged over the Nlets network range from driver and motor vehicle data to criminal history records and corrections images. In 2014 more than 1.5 billion transactions ran over the Nlets network with an average response of less than a tenth of a second. Additionally, Nlets maintains more than 30 strategic partnerships with third-party organizations that serve the law enforcement industry.
The Law Enforcement Teletype System (LETS) began operations at Arizona Highway Patrol in 1967 - later incorporating as Nlets, Inc. Since its origins, Nlets has gone through a number of comprehensive system upgrades in order to provide public safety professionals with the most reliable information exchange capabilities. In 2009, Nlets upgraded to an MPLS network and modularized its message switch.
Nlets is governed by its representatives. Principle member agencies, (e.g., state police departments, departments of public safety, and bureaus of investigation) each appoint a representative. Collectively, these representatives elect officers and a Board of Directors. Along with their governing responsibilities, representatives serve as the primary Nlets contact for their agencies’ interstate data exchange. Nlets staff look to the membership for direction and work hand-in-hand with these law enforcements professionals to enhance and improve the transfer of critical law enforcement data.
Among the latest enhancements to the Nlets network are initiatives designed to improve the transfer of relevant photos and efforts to standardize data. The Targeted Interstate Photo Sharing (TIPS) initiative enables law enforcement agencies to attach images to Administrative Messages, “Be on the lookouts” and Amber Alerts. Agencies that are not able to configure their message keys to receive photos can still view incoming images through Photolink, a service that provides secure web links to incoming images. Currently 14 states can send administrative messages with photos over Nlets, and another six states are in process (see map below).
Nlets has been a leader in law enforcement data standardization. The Criminal History Information Exchange Format (CHIEF) project was created in response to a recommendation by the National Task Force on Increasing the Utility of the Criminal History Record that a standard transmission format for the interstate sharing of CHRI data be created. CHIEF facilitates better criminal history reporting and information management by transitioning state rapsheet formats to a standardized schema. These standardized Rap Sheets are intended to improve the effectiveness of justice and public safety professionals by enhancing their efficiency while reducing mistakes caused by the misinterpretation of out-of-state codes. The majority of states now format criminal history rapsheets in a version of this standard, and Nlets is in the process of developing additional message key standards to further improve data transfer. (see map below)
Recently, Nlets has invested resources into criminal history recording parsing technology. Watch for a future update from Nlets on criminal history record parsing with the Bureau of Justice Statistics and several other agencies.
As remote criminal activity advances, public safety information sharing becomes that much more important. Nlets is committed to working with fellow law enforcement professionals to provide critical data in a secure and timely manner.