FBI Information Sharing
At the 108th Annual Conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in Toronto, Canada, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III stated, "I've always believed that law enforcement is only as good as its relationships, that our combined resources and expertise and ideas are far beyond the sum of their parts, and that the potential for greater successes through mutual cooperation and respect is boundless."
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks the FBI has been made aware of the concerns of law enforcement officers regarding their need for information to help them do their jobs safely, efficiently, and completely. With that in mind, Director Mueller has dedicated a senior FBI official to create a Headquarters level office of intergovernmental affairs.
Kathleen McChesney, was named the Executive Assistant Director of Law Enforcement Services, and will oversee this key function. She has a strong investigatory and leadership background, and spent seven years as a King County, Washington, police officer. This office will serve as a central point of contact for the nation's many law enforcement organizations.
McChesney stated that the FBI would use successful endeavors such as interagency terrorism working groups and joint terrorism task forces (JTTFs) to more effectively investigate planned or actual terrorist incidents. The National Crime Information Center (NCIC), Violent Gang/Terrorist Organization file and Law Enforcement Online (LEO) will also be used to communicate information. Additionally, FBI-sponsored training for police officers, conference calls, citizen academies, and meetings between the Special Agents in Charge of the Field Offices and their state and local counterparts will be part of this cooperative effort.
Terrorism task forces have been in place for over 20 years--the first JTTF established in New York City in 1980. The JTTF concept has proven to be one of the most successful way to address terrorism investigations through an interagency approach involving the law enforcement and public safety community.
There are currently 36 JTTFs in operation, and Director Mueller has asked that JTTFs be established as soon as possible in those cities where they do not exist. As Director Mueller stated to the IACP, "While these task forces aren't a panacea, they do break down stereotypes and communications barriers, more effectively coordinate leads, and help get the right resources in the right places. In short, they meld us together in ways that make information sharing a non-issue."
In addition to the JTTFs there are six Regional Terrorism Task Forces (RTTFs) in existence. FBI agents meet with their federal, state, and local counterparts in each of these regions on a semiannual basis for training, discussion on investigations, and to share intelligence.
Besides the use of the terrorism task forces, the FBI is exploring other means for opening the lines of communication in the law enforcement community. For example, the Bureau is exploring the possibility of establishing a permanent FBI, state and local Advisory Board which will be comprised of sate and local law enforcement executives. The FBI is also working on developing training deliverables such as CD ROMS for every police agency regarding international and domestic terrorism investigations. This initiative does promise to be a valuable tool law enforcement tool, especially for agencies whose dealings in this area are infrequent.
There are several systems in use today that have assisted the law enforcement community under a "shared management" concept for many years. The FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) has worked with the criminal justice community in the management and operation of three national criminal justice information systems: NCIC, Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System or IAFIS, and LEO.
With these systems, representatives from federal, local, and state law enforcement entities work as partners. They participate in decisions regarding the policy, technical, and procedural aspects of the systems--the participation is voluntary, but over 100,000 agencies contribute to, and or have access to, the information maintained at CJIS.
Information sharing is a high priority of the FBI. The Bureau will continue
to build stronger and more supportive relationships with all levels of
law enforcement nationwide by using the successful mechanisms already
in place and by working together in the implementation of new initiatives.