Kansas Bureau of Investigation director Kirk Thompson, center, said the ongoing inquiry into alleged abuse by Catholic clergy in Kansas prompted opening of 74 cases in 33 counties since initiated in February 2019. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — The director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday a $3 million federal grant would vastly improve the state’s information technology system for tracking criminal incidents and arrests as well as enhance collaboration among local law enforcement agencies.
KBI director Kirk Thompson said funding through the U.S. Department of Justice would enable overhaul of the state agency’s antiquated Kansas Incident Based Reporting System. The money will complete work initiated with $200,000 from the Kansas Legislature and $300,000 put toward the project through internal reallocation within the KBI, he said.
KIBRS has been relied upon to track Kansas crime statistics for years, Thompson said, but it wasn’t sophisticated enough to perform rudimentary searches of criminal activity. Once updated, he said, the system would permit the KBI to support local law enforcement agencies with advanced mapping of crime trends, to connect the dots in a geographic region and assist with deployment of policing resources.
“Right now, it’s basically an accounting system,” the director said. “It’s very difficult for us to dig down into that data.”
In the future, Thompson said the 400 law enforcement agencies scattered across Kansas would be able to work on a uniform system for documenting reported crimes, quickly share information about those incidents and learn from the work of peers operating in other jurisdictions. The project could be fully online in about two years, he said.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican seeking reelection in November against Democrat Mark Holland, said he worked with colleagues in Washington to direct the Justice Department grant to the KBI.
He said the quest for IT funding was borne of a desire among federal lawmakers to broaden public investment in local law enforcement agencies in a period in which protests by Black Lives Matter and others raised questions about conduct of officers.
“There was talk about defunding police,” Moran said. “It became a political kind of mantra among some people. We decided that we were going to utilize our opportunity to fund police more.”
Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who is a candidate for governor in the Nov. 8 contest against Gov. Laura Kelly, said the federal aid would modernize an IT system critical to efficient operation of law enforcement officers. He said the decision was made to seek funding through Congress with Moran’s assistance rather than request resources from the Legislature or Kelly.
“This is all about making sure that Kansas law enforcement all over the state has the ability to access common data,” Schmidt said.
He said information generated by the KBI with advancement in the IT system would lead to improvement in appropriation of tax dollars and better training of officers.
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