*This is part three of a multi-part series on Intelligence-Led Policing by Detective DJ Seals.
Compiling various information sources is key to making Intelligence-Led Policing work. Many times police departments are content with the information they currently have. Let’s face it, we tend to live in an informational world contained within the four walls of our departments, ignoring outside information sources. But for Intelligence-Led Policing to work, it is paramount to gather intelligence from three key sources.
Obviously the most immediate source of information will be your in-house records management system – which should be used in conjunction with those notebooks your officers keep with them on the road. Those little notebooks very rarely get included in your departments’ intelligence data, but are often the most accurate source of direct intelligence involving the daily workings of your community. Make sure your officers are transferring the detailed notes they’ve taken into every report they make. And I encourage you, if you are still a paper-heavy agency, move to electronic based methods for recording and sharing information whenever possible.
2) Other Local Agencies
It’s importnat to share information and crime data with neighboring police departments in order to pick up on crime trends and reduce the threat.
One great chasm that many departments still face is the divide between county Sheriff’s departments and municipal Police Departments; floating an ideal of “theres us and then theres them.” This must be broken down in order to compile the next most important data set — that of your neighboring agencies. The criminal element within your jurisdiction does not stop committing crimes because they come to your city/county limits. We all understand that our criminals are also our neighboring agencies criminals. Criminals are irrespective of jurisdictional lines and do not care what color uniform you wear. As a matter of fact, it is in their best interest to move their criminal escapades around. They know we do not share information as freely as we should. We must combat this by breaking down the informational barriers between departments. By sharing local intelligence, we can finally act as one law enforcement body and not individual agencies. One method for sharing information may include third-party systems that can import and codify data regardless of specific types of RMS or CAD systems that may be used by the individual departments. Once this happens, you can begin to discover crime trends that link criminal elements across geographic boundaries.
3) State and Federal Agencies
After you have a grasp and have taken full advantage of all of your local intelligence sources, it is time to…., yes I am going to say it……reach out to your state and federal sources. If we thought the perceived divide between local agencies was wide, then the perceived divide between local agencies and state and federal agencies must be the Grand Canyon. However, since 9/11, state and federal agencies have begun to understand the great impact local intelligence has on national security. Case in point; it was discovered, after the fact, that the terrorists involved in 9/11 drove through the state of Georgia. Not only did they drive through, but they were traffic-stopped a number of times. Even though some of the terrorists were already on a national watch list, they were never flagged because so many of our smaller local systems were not directly linked with the national system.
Reach out to your state and local agencies, join their intelligence sharing meetings and e-mail servers, and don’t just read what they send out – contribute!
I Have a Challenge for You
Would 9/11 have happened as it was planned had one of those traffic stops flagged the terrorists? Have we really moved on toward sharing intelligence? What steps are you taking to share your intelligence with local, state, and federal agencies? It is up to you to reach out to all possible intelligence sources, compile the information, make that information accessible to your stake holders, and put Intelligence-Led Policing into action!
In my next blog, I will explain what to do with this information after you have gathered it, and how to get it out to your officers and community. As always, feel free to ask questions as we move along on our Intelligence-Leg Policing journey.