We’ve all been pulled over by the police before—at least most of us. If you haven’t then you are a unicorn! Such a traffic stop usually involves an officer requesting to see your license and registration before heading back to his or her police cruiser with your information in hand. And, doesn’t it always seem like it takes forever for the officer to return with either a ticket or a warning (if your prayers are answered!)?
Some people wait patiently during this time. Some cruse the universe. Some pray to the heavens. And, others simply wonder…why is this taking so long? One reason is because the officer is checking GCIC or NCIC to see if there are any outstanding warrants out for your arrest or maybe even if the car you are driving is stolen. In laymen terms, the officer is looking up dirt on you to give him or her a reason to arrest you! Or, maybe you’re dangerous to the public—in the eyes of the law—and need to be taken into custody. So, what is GCIC and NCIC, you ask?
GCIC and NCIC are two electronic clearinghouses for crime data. GCIC is the acronym for the Georgia Crime Information Center and NCIC stands for the National Crime Information Center. As you’ve probably guessed, GCIC is Georgia’s statewide crime database and NCIC is a crime database that can be tapped into by every criminal justice agency in the nation.
MORE ABOUT GCIC
GCIC is a division of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). It was established in 1972 by then Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter who believed that a statewide computerized system compiled of information on “criminals” was necessary in order to combat crime. According to the GBI’s website, the mission of GCIC is “to protect the citizens of Georgia by providing accurate and timely criminal justice information and related services. GCIC does this through employee, customer and stakeholder involvement, teamwork, planning and technology.”
Before the creation of the GCIC, it was hard for local agencies to share information about offenders between agencies. Under the governorship of Carter, new laws were created that required local law enforcement and criminal justice agencies to report data on crime and criminals which include arrestee fingerprints, final dispositions after an arrest, missing persons, wanted persons, stolen property records, vehicle registration and driver’s license information.
Offender information flows into GCIC from a network known as the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS). CJIS is a computer-based network of terminals located in local police departments, sheriff’s offices, courts, correctional institutions, and federal and state law enforcement agencies. GCIC serves “as the chief provider of criminal justice information services in Georgia by providing officials and agencies in the criminal justice community with round-the-clock access to information needed to fulfill their responsibilities.”
MORE ABOUT NCIC
NCIC acts in the same manner as GCIC except its nationwide. NCIC was launched just a few short years before GCIC in 1967. Every criminal justice agency in the nation has access to NCIC 24 hours a day in order to help combat crime whether it is apprehending a fugitive, a terrorist or locating a missing person. According to the FBI website, NCIC has been under shared management since its inception—between the FBI, federal, state and local agencies. Just as GCIC, NCIC works by law enforcement agencies entering offender records into the database. All records are accessible to all agencies across the nation. As mentioned, a police officer can search NCIC during a traffic stop to determine if the driver is wanted by law enforcement or if the vehicle is stolen. The system responds in real time—instantly.
However, it must be noted and as explained by the FBI, that a NCIC “hit” is not probable cause for an officer to take action. NCIC policy requires the inquiring agency to verify that the information in the system is correct and timely. Once the information is verified then the inquiring agency may take action such as in arresting a fugitive or recovering stolen property.
Just like GCIC, offender information flows into NCIC from CJIS, which has the overall responsibility for the administration and usage of NCIC within a district, state, territory or federal agency. CJIS appoints a CJIS Systems Officer (CSO) from its agency to be responsible for monitoring the system’s use, enforcing system discipline and security and assuring that all operating procedures are followed.
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 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.
For more information on GCIC and NCIC, check out https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ncic and https://gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-crime-information-center, which information for this article was compiled.
CONTACT BIXON LAW TODAY
Have you been arrested and charged with a crime in Georgia? If so, call Bixon Law today. You need an experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer on your side who will defend your legal rights and vigorously advocate on your behalf to have your case dismissed or the charges against you reduced. As experienced trial attorneys, we are also not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary. We represent clients in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. We are lawyers who are committed to helping people in difficult situations and we invite you to call us at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation today.