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5 ways to dodge the common pitfalls of intelligence sharing

Sharing information across multiple agencies can be aided by intelligence-led policing strategies. Just don’t get tripped up by these common mistakes.


The following is paid content sponsored by Adventos.

By Joel Shults for PoliceOne BrandFocus

A recent street robbery in a large Arizona suburb was ready to be filed as an unsolved case by frustrated detectives due to vague witness statements and too few facts.

Intelligence-led policing strategies can help law enforcement better share information. (Image Pixabay)
Intelligence-led policing strategies can help law enforcement better share information. (Image Pixabay)

When reviewing the case, intelligence officers at the regional fusion center noted that a witness overheard the perpetrator’s nickname and could describe the skateboard he was carrying. The officers found a match by searching social media for the nickname: a girlfriend who lived in the area had a picture of the suspect carrying the skateboard. Detectives contacted the suspect and a confession successfully cleared the case.

The Arizona case is representative of the direction many forward-thinking police departments are moving in regards to the use of advanced data capabilities for crime-solving by using technology to search out and find data on suspects from multiple sources.

But it’s not always easy. As more agencies adopt intelligence-fueled decision-making for crime control, here are five pitfalls they must avoid.

1. Using email as a strategy platform

Intelligence analyst Sgt. Chris Arvayo of Mesa, Ariz., emphasized that communication is key to intelligence gathering and sharing.

But relying too heavily on the most common communication, email, is problematic and causes concern about the security of sensitive information. E-mail lacks the components necessary for collaborative sharing and processing of information for effective, timely decision-making.

Especially when events are in progress, information must be pushed out with updates that alert a variety of devices and reach operational personnel of varying ranks and responsibilities.

2. Expecting line officers to have an impact on more complex patterns/problem crime

Many traditional crime-control responses rely on line-level personnel to alter or concentrate their patrol and enforcement patterns to interrupt criminal activity. Short-term results can be achieved with focused enforcement initiatives, but strategies to attack deeply-rooted causes of crime require time, collaboration and planning at a level beyond the first responder.

Lt. Robert Santos, Ph.D, of Port St. Lucie (Fla.) Police Department has developed and utilized a model of problem solving that addresses the assignment of appropriate crime intervention to line-level, mid-level and executive-level personnel according to the complexity of the problem.

Dubbed the Stratified Model of Problem Solving, Analysis, and Accountability, the strategy is a cohesive method of institutionalizing data collection and goal setting throughout a law enforcement agency regardless of its size.

3. Not defining realistic goals and types of crime to reduce during uncommitted time

Changing the demands on patrol officers and supervisors to engage crime-fighting strategies can be perceived as jumping through new hoops just to satisfy the latest pet project of the chief. Patrol officers, shift leaders and mid-level managers must have a sense of what is possible to affect the crime patterns in their area of responsibility before rolling out ambitious new directives and targets.

In the publication A Police Organizational Model for Crime Reduction: Institutionalizing Problem Solving, Analysis, and Accountability , Dr. Rachel Santos and Lt. Santos reveal a recommended pattern for goal setting at various levels of responsibility. The key is using measureable and achievable goals to give meaning to strategies and show officers that their data collection for use in decision-making is critical to mission success and yields real results.

4. Lack of motivation through accountability

Whether crime-control strategies are traditional or innovative, results will be disappointing if areas of weakness are not identified. When goals are set, mechanisms of accountability must be set in place as well.

The Stratified Model addresses accountability over time and within geographic divisions by using periodic meetings to review measured outcomes. Leadership and performance gaps become evident and are addressed directly. This requires relevant data presentable in visual form.

“Because of this, we implemented an agency management system called Adventos SmartForce, which among other things is specifically designed to drive accountability of crime-control strategies and provide the relevant data in a presentable and collaborative manner,” Lt. Roberto Santos said.

5. Failure to institutionalize processes

Sgt. Arvayo emphasizes that agencies must be invested in intelligence-gathering for decision-making throughout the organization. Beginning with training patrol-level officers to gather and record information in detail for use in analysis, the availability of data and its presentation in a usable platform must become a routine expectation.

As the value of intelligence information becomes more evident, more officers will begin to access these tools for dealing with crime. If the tools to gather the data are cumbersome and the information is not accessible, the agency will fall back to traditional methods with limited short-term results.

Intelligence-sharing capacity can become a reality for police officers as technology meets the needs of patrol officers, investigators and police leaders. With greater access to vital data in a digestible form, police officers at all levels, including tactical commanders in the field, can keep themselves and those who depend on them safer while achieving greater crime reduction results.

For more information on intelligence-led policing and technologies that can support your agency’s intelligence-led policing strategy results, visit Adventos.

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