Public Safety Information Technology
Steve Noyes
555 Wright Way
Carson City, Nevada 89711
(702) 684-4720

NEWS FROM: Public Safety 98-136

Dangerous Offender Notification System

The State of Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety, through its Criminal Justice Information System, has implemented a technological system that greatly enhances cross-agency law enforcement officer safety and the supervision of offenders.

The system is named DONS, in honor of Sparks, Nevada Police Officer Larry Donald Johnson, killed in the line of duty in 1995 by a Nevada parolee mistakenly released on bail after being arrested for armed robbery. If the subject has been identified as a parolee, he would have been denied bail and returned before the Parole Board for parole violations. In this significant case, the subject was allowed to post bail and subsequently was involved in a shoot-out with law enforcement officers. He was killed in the shoot-out, as was Officer Johnson.

To prevent such a tragic event from happening again, the Public Safety Information Technology group, working with the Criminal Justice Information Systems Advisory Committee, developed a computer system that runs real-time on a Unisys Clearpath mainframe system. This system is tied to law enforcement agencies through dispatch centers throughout the state which use the Unisys proprietary Law Enforcement Message Switch (LEMS). This allows virtually anyone with authorized access to query the database similar to wants and warrants searches. The DONS search is tied directly to the State's "Query Warrants" function, such that an inquiry on a person will return not only wants/warrants information, but data regarding any hit found concerning parole or probation status of the person. John Reichelt, Public Safety Dispatch Manager says, "The program is functioning exactly as it was designed. The Nevada Highway Patrol Communication Center is the focal point for all DONS notifications. During the hours of 11:00pm to 7:00am, our communication center is responsible for generating either a 'hold' or 'no hold' to the law enforcement agency that made the original contact notice. We are currently averaging 50-60 contacts during a 24 hour period."

So, the officer in the field can positively identify the subject by the additional information provided, and then request dispatch to perform a "Parole and Probation Contact Notification" in which the Parole & Probation Division is notified of the field contact and the reason. The Parole & Probation Division's system provides an immediate response, based on preset rules, as to whether the subject should be detained for 10 minutes while the Parole & Probation Division's on-call officer is contacted on how to handle this subject, given the particulars of the situation. Within ten minutes, the Parole & Probation Division responds back as to "release" or "hold for P & P violation" status. Carlos Concha, Chief of the Parole and Probation Division, comments, "Since the implementation of DONS, Nevada's communities have benefitted from our ability to detain the offender and obtain immediate information in order to determine his risk to the community."

The system provides not only increased officer safety at initial contact, but has eliminated missed-chances when absconders happen to be stopped for speeding or when new crimes are committed. Nevada Highway Patrol Chief Col. Michael Hood states, "The DONS notification process is very effective in advising the street officers and booking facilities when they are dealing with people under P & P supervision. The NHP is proud to contribute to this effort by providing after hours notification to law enforcement and training to DONS users statewide." Additionally, Hood said, "As the State's Control Terminal Agency to the Nevada Criminal Justice Information System (NCJIS), the NHP continually looks for avenues to increase officer awareness and officer safety. DONS is just another example of the objective."

The following statistics represent the current operation of the system since its implementation in 1996:

Active subjects tracked at this time 14,403
Law Enforcement Officers represented 177
Subjects on Probation 11,387
Subjects on Parole 2,835
Subjects on House Arrest 181
Interstate Compact Subjects 1,116
US Cities Represented 42
Contacts reported by Law Enforcement 15,163
Violence indicated 563
Weapons indicated 265
Uncooperative subject indicated 1,070
Warrants outstanding indicated 1,828
10 minute detain set by system 7,152
Ultimately booked for violations 4,069
Parolee subjects arrested 644
Probation subjects arrested 3,231
House arrest subjects arrested 194

With all its success, DONS is an interim system in an overall automation rewrite encompassing the whole of the Parole & Probation Division, and the entire Public Safety Criminal History Records Repository.

Based on a relational database system being redesigned using Oracle as the new database management system, and USoft development tools as the designer front-end tools, users are getting significantly upgraded systems using Windows NT, NT server reliability, true smart-client, client-server capabilities all supporting a rules-based data design. It is the rules-based element which most excites both the user community and the development staff, in that database level triggers are implemented regarding relational integrity in addition to client level constraints and decisions built in by rule definition in the USoft tools. These effectively lock out user error for typos and so on.

In short, the development staff has now come much closer to "teaching the machine the business" and the user community now has a system that truly supports and enforces the business requirements. For example: A person with an outstanding warrant is absolutely denied a concealed weapon carry permit. The system, using the rules definitions, is much more capable of what we humans find increasingly difficult: communicating everything that needs to be communicated. In this day and time, we need all the help we can get.


Steve Noyes is an Information Specialist III and Project Leader for the Parole & Probation Automation project. Serving in various roles as programmer, analyst, instructor, developer and system engineer for almost 20 years, he welcomes comments and questions and he can be reached at 702-684-4720-State of Nevada DMV&PS Information Technology, 555 Wright Way Carson City, NV 89711.