Challenging the Status Quo: How NJSP Developed Its Crime Gun Intelligence Program

n November 2004, Mosul, Iraq, was home to many displaced enemy fighters from Falluja and street gangs who roamed the city streets practicing the art of terror. During this time, an estimated 200 bodies were discovered dumped in the streets. As U.S. military forces began to plan their assault to take back the city from the fighters and gangs, Army Lieutenant Colonel Erik Kurilla quickly recognized that his personnel desperately needed intelligence to understand and defeat the threat they were facing.

Kurilla knew that the Army practice was to reserve high-end intelligence for consumption at higher echelon levels. He also understood that the intelligence he and his battalion were receiving had a limited shelf life and often expired before his personnel could consume it. To resolve this challenge, he immediately increased his intelligence element from 5 personnel to more than 25 by converting infantry soldiers to intelligence officers. Considered a bold and counterintuitive move by many, Kurilla’s innovative approach undoubtedly saved lives and was a critical factor in wresting control of Mosul from the insurgents.

Kurilla’s experience highlights a very important lesson for law enforcement professionals. To be effective, they must often challenge the status quo of doing business and find alternative ways to accomplish goals. Such was the case with the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) as they fought gun violence in their state.