During my many conversations with law enforcement executives, I am asked “isn’t Intelligence-Led Policing just for large agencies?” This is perhaps the largest misconception surrounding Intelligence Led Policing. In fact, there’s a few myths that feed the idea that ILP isn’t for every agency. So much so, that I’d compelled to put finger to keyboard to shed some light on the truth. Here’s some the top myths that persists in the market today.
Myth #1. Intelligence-Led Policing has roots in concepts from the FBI and other national level agencies, and well, the federal system is nothing like ours.
There is a long held belief, and generally rooted in truth, that national law enforcement agencies and local law enforcement agencies do not play well with each other. Along with that belief, and not holding with the truth, is that federal and local agencies do not deal with the same problems. We do deal with the same problems, just with larger or smaller quantities.
9/11 taught us that the communication break down between federal and local agencies caused a security risk that not only affected certain areas; it affected the nation as a whole. In the same way, we need to think of our agencies not solely in respect to their size, but as a part of a larger whole. The better each agency understands their crime and the patterns around those crimes, they are then able to share that information with neighboring agencies and thus work together to attack the bigger crime pattern in their geographic area.
Myth #2. “We are a small city, we know our crimes. We don’t need some new way of policing to tell us what is going on in our city.”
This is a very commonly held belief among smaller rural agencies. We all know that good cops with some years under their belt have a great sense of what is going on in their city. These are the folks that the rookies can rely upon to give them the best start on understanding crime in their city. I have found that within each department there are a number of these veteran cops with this type of good information and sense about their city.
However, I have also found that each of these cops have expertise and specific knowledge in different areas and very rarely do they come together to put this information in one location that everyone can access. I encourage the command staff of these agencies to choose one of these veteran officers as their Intelligence Officer, train them in Intel and give them what they need to gather that information and utilize it to better the department. I tell these agencies that they are already embracing the idea of intelligence led policing, now put it to work.
Myth #3. “Intelligence-Led Policing is an expensive money drain that takes a good officer off the street and wastes their efforts.”
Many administrators believe that creating an Intelligence-Led Policing division takes expensive software, extensive training, and the “loss” of a good officer. They see super large agencies with expansive computers systems and large groups of Intel Analysts and believe that this is the only way to accomplish Intelligence-Led Policing.
Not True! The size of your intelligence unit should reflect the size of your department. A very effective intelligence unit can consist of one officer if that is along the lines of the size of the department. Likewise, the software used to assist with the intelligence unit can be relatively inexpensive. The key is to find software addresses the needs of your agency and is easy to use. A cost-effective and smart solution utilizes the scalable and readily available infrastructure available to in a cloud-based setup.
A cloud-based platform allows an agency the flexibility of having a large, powerful data resource without the cost of owning their own servers, maintenance that comes with that, or the IT resource required to manage it all.
Intelligence-Led Policing isn’t about over-priced, uber-tech gadgets. It’s about utilizing the data that you’ve accumulated over decades of policing your citizenry to harvest actionable intelligence that ultimately allows you to make decisions that keep your community safer. Don’t let the myths remain. Debunk them by exploring tools that allow you to take your intelligence efforts to the next level.