A Cure for CRS
By Jim Silvania
As my 68th birthday approaches I thought I might pass along a tip for dealing with the dreaded aging process commonly known as “CRS” or “Can’t Remember Stuff”. Others of you may define this dilemma by a different “S” word but for the purpose of this publication we’ll use “stuff”.
Microsoft offers a data base product called Access. There is similar software available on the market that accomplishes the same task but since I use Microsoft Office 2010 I decided to just stick with Access. There are also scanners which provide their own filing software and make the task I’m going to recommend even easier. And last but not least there is investigative software that offers some of the same features.
One of the newer products out there is called Neat Desk which is a self-contained scanner and data base software; you therefore only need to make one purchase. But if you already have an all-in-one printer, fax, scanner there is little need to purchase additional hardware.
If you happen to be investigating a major fraud case IBM® i2® Analyst's Notebook® can be helpful. It offers a visual intelligence analysis environment that enables government agencies and private sector businesses to maximize the value of the mass of information that they collect. It allows analysts to quickly collate, analyze and visualize data from disparate sources. It’s advertised to reduce the time required to discover key information in complex data and to deliver timely, actionable intelligence to help identify, predict, prevent, and disrupt criminal, terrorist, and fraudulent activities.
In my 45 plus years of investigating throughout Ohio I have written numerous summaries and investigative reports and gathered data from newspapers and magazines that predate most commercial data bases: “stuff” that may be hard to track down again. No doubt we all have numerous files and documents in our offices, basements and storage facilities that have remain un-indexed and therefore unlooked upon for years.
It was my fortune or misfortune to spend about 13 years of my law enforcement career assigned to an intelligence unit where everything written was indexed, analyzed and filed away to provide a written history or forwarded to the powers to be to provide decision making information.
What we now do in the private sector is no different than what intelligent operations or agencies do today. We gather information though research and forward that information to our clients so they can make an informed decision.
But what happens to all the documents and reports after one is finished with a particular investigation? And what happens ten years down the road when you’re asked about a name or an incident that you investigated? Will you have to admit you can’t remember?
An easily overlooked investigative tool to defeat “CRS” is called “link analysis”. Some data bases offer this service at an extra cost but the basics are easy and can be applied to every investigation you conduct.
The rules are easy:
1. Read the document and underline all proper names and business
2. An unbroken line for proven association, a broken line ( -----) for suspected association
3. Use a circle for people and boxes for businesses
4. No crossing of lines.
Ok, you don’t have to draw a link analysis for every investigation, but you need to at least apply rule number one to every document you write, underline every proper names and business. Next, provide an index or file number for that document and using Microsoft Access or whatever data base you chose to document those names you’ve underlined to a data based index. Thereafter you can recall an individual or a business entity by a simple click of a mouse and you never have to say, “I don’t remember.”
Another helpful benefit of this system is that someday you are likely to come across the same individuals or business entities in another investigation and thereafter you’re only a click away from either simplifying your task or knowing that your current investigation may be more than you first thought.
As a side bar here, it’s better to underline than to highlight the documents; that is if you want to PDF them into your computer or onto a CD or DVD. When you use a highlighter it may block out or redact the name you have indexed; thereupon rendering the process as useless. Also check out which PDF program you’ll use for this indexing process as many now allow you to turn a PDF document into a Microsoft Word document. Turning that PDF document that you’ve indexed and saved into a Word document makes it easier to cut & paste into a new investigative report.
All of the above can be completed at little or no cost depending upon the tools your chose to accomplish the task. But at what cost is it to you to be constantly be saying, “I don’t remember.” And when you die, or move on to other pursuits, or retire, your files will remain forever.