How Does It Work?

1. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office identifies specific individuals, charges, and locations as priorities.
Prosecutors in the Manhattan D.A.’s Office create an arrest alert for individuals, charges, and locations they want to prioritize. Priority individuals, who might range from persistent lower-level offenders to those who commit violent felonies, are often those responsible for a disproportionate amount of crime. However, priority individuals can also include anyone who the D.A.’s Office wants to track, such as defendants with open cases or uncooperative witnesses (e.g., gang members or other crime drivers who have been shot or stabbed and are not cooperative with law enforcement). Priority charges are usually crimes that have a major impact on community safety and well-being—for instance, weapons offenses, gang-related crime, or grand larcenies. Priority locations may include “hot spots” where crime frequently occurs.

2. Arrest data obtained by the police department is fed into the Arrest Alert system.
As new arrests occur in New York City—not just the borough of Manhattan, but the boroughs of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, as well—the New York City Police Department (NYPD) notifies the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (the state agency responsible for collecting crime data and maintaining criminal fingerprinting files), which then returns the arrestee’s New York State Identification Number and full criminal history to the police. The NYPD sends arrest data to the D.A.’s Office, where it is fed automatically into the Arrest Alert system, which uses the arrestee’s unique identification number, type of crime (as indicated by the penal law code on the arrest record), and exact address of the arrest to search for matches.

Arrest Alert Sample Email

3. The system flags priority arrests and sends an email to prosecutors.
When a priority individual, charge, or location is flagged, an alert is sent via email to subscribing prosecutors and approved law enforcement partners. The Arrest Alert email includes the arrestee’s name, all other alert recipients, the categories and groups the arrestee is linked to, and notes that illustrate why the arrestee is included in a particular group. On the previous page is an example of an Arrest Alert email message (no real names are used). Each alert also includes the date it was created and the person who created it.

The Arrest Alert system has the option of creating different levels of permissions to determine who should receive alerts, what information is included in the alert, and who can make edits. For information on permissions and managing sensitive information, see the fact sheet “Creating an Arrest Alert System: Identifying and Managing Priority Arrests.”

4. Email alerts are generated 24/7.
The Arrest Alert system automatically searches for the arrests of targeted individuals, charges, or specific locations among new arrests every 15 minutes. When it finds a match, it sends an email within two to three hours of the arrest to subscribers who have requested an alert about the specific individual, charge, or location. This notification generally occurs before charging papers have been drafted for new arrests, allowing time for the subscribers to confer with the prosecutor on duty and help him or her make informed decisions about charging, the bail request, and sentencing recommendations prior to the defendant’s arraignment.
In addition to registered users within the Manhattan D.A.’s Office, the office’s Crime Strategies Unit may approve law enforcement partners to receive arrest alerts. To protect the confidentiality of the information being sent in an alert email, prosecutors within the Crime Strategies Unit can select law enforcement partners to receive an email invitation to join Arrest Alert. Once the invitation is accepted and a working email is confirmed, the prosecutor approves the officer’s subscription.

5. Filters allow data to be grouped and analyzed.
In addition to generating emails when individual arrests occur, the Arrest Alert system can filter and analyze data. The system can list arrestees by categories, such as confirmed gang members or weapons arrests. It also allows users to view all subscribers to a particular priority individual or alert group. This enables the Manhattan D.A.’s Office to analyze and share information within the office and ensure that every arrest alert is up to date and accurate. Arrest alerts can also be used to locate uncooperative witnesses and to gather information through debriefings on crimes in specific areas or among specific gang members.

The following screenshot of the Arrest Alert system’s database—accessible to all prosecutors at their desktop computers—illustrates how information is displayed. In this example, the user has clicked on “Gangs – Manhattan,” so the left column lists different gangs that are active in Manhattan. The user in this example is interested in confirmed members of “Gang ABC,” so the screenshot displays the names of all members in the system along with any notes and the name of the prosecutor who is the contact person for the alert (no real information is used).

Arrest Alert System Dashboard