Our Story

FINDER, formerly LETTR, was founded as a 501c(3) utilizing budget money from FL sheriff’s departments and federal grant dollars. The goal of FINDER was to address informational silo’s that existed between law enforcement agencies. Specifically gaps in “low-level” information sharing. Low-level information is a reference to information that is generated by routine police activities such as traffic stops, crime reports, administrative reports, calls for service, and miscellaneous contacts with people who are not arrested or who are charged with minor offenses (Carter, 2004; Reynolds et al, 2005, 2006).

This failure of U.S. law enforcement agencies to share low-level information from everyday police operations has been identified as a factor contributing to the 9/11 terrorists’ ability to execute their crimes.

Missed connections

On April 26, 2001, a Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy conducted a traffic stop on Mohamed Atta in Broward County, Florida. The sheriff issued Atta a ticket for driving without a license and ordered him to appear in court. The deputy never had access to information that indicated Atta was on a U.S. government “watch list” for terrorist activities. Shortly before his scheduled court date, Atta applied for and received a FL driver’s license. He then failed to appear for court on May 28th and authorities issued a criminal bench warrant for his arrest (National Governors Association [NGA], 2002).

Subsequently, in July of 2001, with the Broward County bench warrant still active, Atta was stopped for another traffic violation in neighboring Palm Beach County. The July traffic stop by police in Delray Beach, was just a few miles over the county line. However, because information about low-level arrest warrants was not shared between Florida counties, Delray Beach police did not know that Atta was wanted, nor did they have access to information that would have alerted them to Atta’s federal watch list status (“Better Warrant System,” 2001).

On September 11, Atta, despite having an outstanding warrant for his arrest and despite being on a government watch list, boarded a plane in Portland, Maine, using his recently issued FL driver’s license.

Authorities believe Atta was at the controls of AA 11 that crashed into the North tower.

This single event begs questions about how the course of history might have changed if federal-level intelligence information (the terrorist watch list) or low-level, local police information (the bench warrant) had been available to Broward and Palm Beach counties’ law enforcement officers. Atta might have been arrested, searched, and questioned; his plans might have been disrupted; his conspirators revealed.

This story is an extract from the Ph.D. dissertation of Dr. Ernie Scott. Dr. Scott retired as Chief of Investigations at Orange County (FL) Sheriff’s Office and received his Ph.D. in Public Affairs/Criminal Justice in 2006 from University of Central Florida (UCF).

Inspiration from tragedy

Dr. Scott and his team comprised of many individuals from a wide range and diverse history within the criminal justice community took on the mission of making low-level, local police information more accessible across the region based on the events leading up to the 9/11 attacks. With this goal, the collaboration between UCF, a committed team of software engineers, and law enforcement professionals laid the foundation for the creation of FINDER. While Dr. Scott has retired and other founding members have departed, the mission and commitment remains steadfast today in building a platform and solutions that connect and empower law enforcement across the country.

In 2018, Mr. Ryan Barnett of Vetted Security Solutions, a leading security technology integrator, discovered the work of Dr. Scott and the FINDER team. For years Mr. Barnett had been able to help law enforcement agencies curtail and solve crimes through their adoption of License Plate Recognition (LPR) programs. As an emerging technology was possible to demonstrate the effectiveness of LPR alerts for targeted vehicles, however, Mr. Barnett was plagued by the question of how many LPR alerts led to arrest. The primary goal of the discussion was to facilitate the correlation of LPR data back to RMS reports.

In January of 2020, the team behind FINDER and Vetted came to an agreement to unify our organizations. The University of Central Florida, who had developed and still owned the rights to the software code, agreed to sell the intellectual property behind FINDER to Vetted Holdings LLC, the parent company of Vetted Security Solutions.

FINDER today

With the sale by UCF to Vetted Holdings, FINDER moved from a FL based 501c(3) to a commercial business. In the years since transitioning, FINDER has successfully transitioned into a dynamic commercial development entity while steadfastly maintaining its commitment to its original mission. Through strategic evolution, FINDER has adeptly harnessed its expertise in technology and data analytics to offer comprehensive law enforcement solutions to a wider audience.

FINDER has remained true to its founding principles, ensuring that its solutions continue to prioritize public safety and the advancement of justice. This evolution underscores FINDER’s adaptability and resilience in the pursuit of its noble mission.

Find out more, contact us.

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