Police left in dark as Illinois crime database offline

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
CHICAGO (WLS) -- For more than a full day last weekend police in Chicago and hundreds of law enforcement agencies across Illinois were unable to access LEADS, the primary database of criminal information operated by the Illinois State Police, the I-Team has learned.

The Law Enforcement Agencies Data System is the gateway to suspect background checks, stolen car reports, sex offender history, fugitive files, orders of protection and missing persons notices for police departments, prosecutors, courthouses and county jails.

LEADS, operated out of Springfield by the state police, allows patrol officers to determine who they are dealing with during traffic stops and the history of people they arrest-everything from vehicle registrations and driver's licenses to gun permits
and gang connections.

Illinois State Police officials say the outage was planned and law enforcement agencies were notified ahead of time.

The outage was supposed to be short, according to what a spokesperson for the Cook County Sheriff's Dept. says they were told by state officials. It apparently ended up being 24 hours longer than promised.

Without the ability to instantly determine whether there were active warrants for people bonding out of Cook County jail, at least 35 discharges were delayed last weekend according to a sheriff's spokesperson. Arrestees who made bond were eventually released, but background checks had to be conducted manually.

One Cook County law enforcement official said it went down "Saturday morning and came back up Sunday about 2 p.m."

LEADS, which started in 1968 as "hot files" of continually-updated information, is also the primary connection to the FBI's NCIC, the National Crime Information Center.

Last weekend citywide Chicago police handled six murders and 35 shootings. There is no way to know whether traffic stops and other routine police work were impeded due to the unusual outage.
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