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Public safety. Few factors are as visible or as important to the quality of life in our communities. Around the country, justice agencies are striving to improve public safety by sharing information across the boundaries of organizations and jurisdictions. These efforts reflect a broad consensus that integrated justice information has the potential to save lives, time, and dollars.

Achieving the benefits of integrated justice information can be a difficult and complex task. The technical and organizational challenges require sustained commitment from key people and organizations, as well as investment of resources and changes in the way work is done. None of these are easy to come by. Success depends on making a clear and compelling case that persuades many different players to participate and collaborate. A well-crafted business case is a powerful communication tool that can increase support for the effort. This Guide provides advice and tools that will help you design and present a strong, persuasive business case to public officials, community leaders, and justice professionals.

An effective business case is a multi - purpose communication tool that generates the support and participation needed to turn an idea into reality. It explains why integration should be supported and how it will improve the business of the justice enterprise. It casts the explanation in terms of the specific circumstances and opportunities of a particular time and place. The case recognizes conflicts and competition for resources and suggests strategies for dealing with them. The case presentation can be tailored to the different audiences whose support is essential to success.

What we are calling a business case includes elements that you may find in a business plan or a business strategy. You may recognize them, perhaps labeled differently, from your own experience with program development and planning, budget development and justification, legislative negotiations, acquisition planning, or any number of tasks in which you have both expertise and experience.

The basic idea for this Guide came from deliberations at national conferences, sponsored by the US Department of Justice, involving dozens of justice professionals from a wide range of state and local agencies. Considerable additional research and lessons from successful integration experience have gone into the Guide's development. We used materials and lessons learned from more than 20 state and local integration initiatives. The Guide also reflects the results of a national workshop at which elected and appointed officials met with justice professionals to help them identify more effective ways to present a business case. The result is a Guide that is grounded in the lessons of real life integration initiatives and the advice of seasoned policy makers and justice professionals.