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National Crime Information Center (NCIC )

By: Cory Yager, Award-Winning Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney and Ex-Cop Explains NCIC Meaning

In the age of instant information and various aspects of our lives being played out on social media and accessible by billions of computers, a person’s criminal record is an important aspect of any database search. High speed computers and data access is bringing forth George Orwell’s 1949 novel, 1984.

What is NCIC?

NCIC location When you are pulled over for a traffic stop, or apply for jobs or seek to rent an apartment or house by filling out the realtor’s form application, or to join the military, your criminal history record information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, state databases (e.g., the Georgia DDS or GCIC) may be accessible for certain criminal searches.

The granddaddy of such background checks is the NCIC background check, which is the primary purpose of the NCIC computer system. The National Crime Information Center NCIC is operated by the by the federal government in a massive operation located in Clarksburg, West Virginia. This is the national crime database that is accessible to a limited number of users who need to undertake an NCIC criminal history check on an individual.

NCIC database access is federally protected, which means that if someone accesses the restricted portal for a nefarious or personal reason, he or she commits a serious federal crime. In searching for the best National Crime Information Center definition, the following succinct description of this “Big Brother” information is provided from a Department of Justice federal website as follows:

NCIC is a computerized index of criminal justice information (i.e.- criminal record history information, fugitives, stolen properties, missing persons). The FBI criminal justice information is available to Federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies and is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The primary reason for criminal justice information systems is to allow law enforcement agents to conduct an NCIC search looking for warrants, stolen items, or known criminals on the lam. Occasionally, local news will cover a story about an NCIS missing person discovery. Something as simple as a patrolling officer using an ALRP (automated license plate reader) can “hit” on a “wants and warrants” NCIC vehicle inquiry

So, in practical terms, a law enforcement agent in Georgia and authorized by P.O.S.T to have GCIC NCIC certification can conduct an instantaneous NCIC check of a driver he or she has pulled over. Plus, numerous other situations may arise, such as being screened at the Atlanta airport.

NCIC Warrant or Other NCIC Database Search Access

NCIC, the first FBI national crime system, was launched at FBI Headquarters in Washington, DC in 1967, and was the brainchild of the legendary J. Edgar Hoover. This historic snippet from the CJIS website explains how the NCIC “Big Brother” juggernaut was launched in America:

“In the 1960s, Director J. Edgar Hoover presided over the meeting during which the decision was made to implement a computer system that would centralize crime information from every state and provide that information to law enforcement throughout the nation.”

This information on Hoover from Wikipedia, quoting President Harry Truman gives some idea into the overreaching attempted by FBI director Hoover in the post-WWII era.:

“U.S. President Harry S Truman said that Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force:

… we want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him.”

The first year of operations by the NCIC report system produced 2.4 million total inquiries and transactions. In 2016, the giant labyrinth of connected crime computers processed nearly 18 million inquiries in a single day. Today’s police officer can gain access through cell phone based technology like CrimeStar.

This quote from the CJIS website gives a partial picture about who can conduct an NCIC warrant check:

“NCIC has operated under a shared management concept between the FBI and federal, state, local, and tribal criminal justice users since its inception.”

How the State of Georgia Quickly Formed the GCIC

Former Gov. Jimmy Carter saw the promise of better law enforcement by establishing a Georgia state crime information center. pushed for and was able to pass legislation for a similar database in 1973. Working with Georgia’s attorney general, Arthur K. Bolton, Carter pushed state officials to conduct a study on costs and implementation.

Then, under Governor Carter’s Executive Reorganization Act, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was established as a separate agency from DPS (the Georgia Department of Public Safety, which has since been reorganized). The Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) has continued to function as a division of the GBI, based upon GCIC’s enabling legislation, Georgia Law 92A-30 (when the law was originally passed).

The GBI runs the GCIC, and every other state has a similar state agency to conduct such inquiries as an NCIC warrant search. Our state records are also searchable by other criminal justice agencies across the USA, and Canada.

How Does NCIC Work?

A real-life example works best to show the effectiveness of the FBI NCIC system. Our law firm has had a client screened after landing at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport, returning from an international flight, when an “NCIC hit” flagged the passenger. This unresolved, 30-year old DeKalb County felony warrant led to the Missouri man’s arrest by Homeland Security police. Our lawyers in Atlanta had to deal with this belated arrest, since NCIC database warrants never expire on their computer system!

Arrested But the official federal websites discuss that (because records may be stale or outdated) the hit on a GCIC or federal database requires further inquiry, to ascertain if the record being reported may be an error. So, due diligence requires that traffic cop or border patrol officer to may further inquiry before incarcerating someone.

What Does NCIC Stand For?

By now, you know that answer, which is “National Crime Information Center.” Thousands of similar online searches each month seek national criminal information center, or national crime investigation center, or national crime information system to gather information about the nefarious agency.

You may ask, who has access to NCIC information? The following detailed description is taken from the FBI website, and breaks down how NCIC internal divisions are maintained, to focus on various types of crimes:

The NCIC database includes 21 files (seven property files and 14 person files):

  • Article File: Records on stolen articles and lost public safety, Homeland Security, and critical infrastructure identification.
  • Gun File: Records on stolen, lost, and recovered weapons and weapons used in the commission of crimes that are designated to expel a projectile by air, carbon dioxide, or explosive action.
  • Boat File: Records on stolen boats.
  • Securities File: Records on serially numbered stolen, embezzled, used for ransom, or counterfeit securities.
  • Vehicle File: Records on stolen vehicles, vehicles involved in the commission of crimes, or vehicles that may be seized based on federally issued court order.
  • Vehicle and Boat Parts File: Records on serially numbered stolen vehicle or boat parts.
  • License Plate File: Records on stolen license plates.
  • Missing Persons File: Records on individuals, including children, who have been reported missing to law enforcement and there is a reasonable concern for their safety.
  • Foreign Fugitive File: Records on persons wanted by another country for a crime that would be a felony if it were committed in the United States.
  • Identity Theft File: Records containing descriptive and other information that law enforcement personnel can use to determine if an individual is a victim of identity theft of if the individual might be using a false identity.
  • Immigration Violator File: Records on criminal aliens whom immigration authorities have deported and aliens with outstanding administrative warrants of removal.
  • Protection Order File: Records on individuals against whom protection orders have been issued.
  • Supervised Release File: Records on individuals on probation, parole, or supervised release or released on their own recognizance or during pre-trial sentencing.
  • Unidentified Persons File: Records on unidentified deceased persons, living persons who are unable to verify their identities, unidentified victims of catastrophes, and recovered body parts. The file cross-references unidentified bodies against records in the Missing Persons File.
  • Protective Interest: Records on individuals who might pose a threat to the physical safety of protectees or their immediate families. Expands on the U.S. Secret Service Protective File, originally created in 1983.
  • Gang File: Records on violent gangs and their members.
  • Known or Appropriately Suspected Terrorist File: Records on known or appropriately suspected terrorists in accordance with HSPD-6.
  • Wanted Persons File: Records on individuals (including juveniles who will be tried as adults) for whom a federal warrant or a felony or misdemeanor warrant is outstanding.
  • National Sex Offender Registry File: Records on individuals who are required to register in a jurisdiction’s sex offender registry.
  • National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Denied Transaction File: Records on individuals who have been determined to be “prohibited persons” according to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and were denied as a result of a NICS background check. (As of August 2012, records include last six months of denied transactions; in the future, records will include all denials.)
  • Violent Person File: Once fully populated with data from our users, this file will contain records of persons with a violent criminal history and persons who have previously threatened law enforcement.

The system is established and maintained in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 534; Department of Justice Appropriation Act, 1973, Pub. L. 92-544, 86 Stat. 1115, Securities Acts Amendment of 1975, Pub. L. 94-29, 89 Stat. 97; and 18 U.S.C. Sec. 924 (e). Exec. Order No. 10450, 3 CFR (1974).

Call Our NCIC GCIC Attorneys in Atlanta After Your Arrest

Our law office answers your calls 24 hours a day, because no one plans to be arrested. Plus, an Atlanta criminal attorney from our law group will give you a cell phone number, when you hire our Atlanta lawyers for your criminal case. When comparing lawyers near me, start with credentials, awards and attorney ratings.

Obtain a FREE consultation today, even if it is a holiday or weekend. (404) 567-5515. Call former police officer Cory Yager, AVVO superstar Larry Kohn or veteran Atlanta criminal defense lawyer Bubba Head, who has practiced criminal defense since 1976.

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