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The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan

Imagine a detective working a fraud investigation. As a result of a single inquiry into a networked system-connected to local, state, regional, and federal databases-responses are received from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a state law enforcement agency that the subject is also believed to be part of a major money laundering operation that may be supplying several terrorist organizations. The detective then contacts the intelligence analyst listed as the point of contact in the networked system, who provides a comprehensive briefing document that explains how the detective's fraud investigation fits into the big picture.

Realize Immediate Benefits

Picture law enforcement executives preparing to develop an intelligence system. Instead of wading through a series of false starts, the executives have-at their fingertips-a source of established standards for managing intelligence data and ensuring system security. They will have access to established, proven model policies and standards that promote intelligence sharing while ensuring individuals' rights to privacy.

Access Quality Training

Your staff could access quality intelligence training programs for all levels of personnel, regardless of the size or location of your law enforcement agency. Is it too good to be true to have a single initiative addressing all these concerns? Not if your agency adopts and implements the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan.

What Is the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan?

The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan is a formal intelligence sharing initiative that securely links local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies, facilitating the exchange of critical intelligence information. The plan contains model policies and standards and describes a nationwide communications capability that will link all levels of law enforcement personnel, including officers on the street, intelligence analysts, unit commanders, and police executives.

Why Do We Need It and How Did It Begin?

When President George W. Bush called for the creation of a Cabinet-level agency to coordinate homeland security, he emphasized improved criminal intelligence sharing as critical to enhancing law enforcement and other emergency agencies' abilities to protect the American public.

In fall 2001, law enforcement officers attending the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference identified the need to assess the inadequacies of the intelligence process that, in part, led to the failure to prevent the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As a result, law enforcement executives and intelligence experts joined resources at the IACP Criminal Intelligence Sharing Summit in March 2002 to articulate a proposal for an intelligence sharing plan that was in alignment with the president's initiative. They envisioned law enforcement agencies at all levels of government fully coordinating, collecting, analyzing, and appropriately disseminating criminal intelligence data across the United States to make our nation safer.

How was this collaboration achieved? IACP summit participants called for the creation of a criminal intelligence coordinating council composed of law enforcement professionals from all levels of government. The council would develop and then oversee the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan. Key to the process was efficient leveraging of existing efforts -the commitment to build on, not reinvent, substantial information sharing activities already under way.

Joseph Polisar, chief of police in Garden Grove, California, and now president of the IACP, said, "The need for intelligence sharing is paramount to our nation's safety. It is absolutely critical that we break down the barriers and expeditiously implement a plan for intelligence sharing that is continuously emphasized and built upon." IACP summit recommendations also included the following:

  • Development of standardized policies, operating procedures, and training guidelines
  • Protection of civil rights
  • Creation of standards for participation in the council and coordinated intelligence network
  • Creation of an outreach strategy

Additional information on the IACP summit can be located in Criminal Intelligence Sharing: A National Plan for Intelligence-Led Policing at the Local, State, and Federal Levels: Recommendations from the IACP Intelligence Summit, available at

Who Developed the Plan?

In fall 2002, in response to this crucial need, the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs (OJP) authorized the formation of the Global Intelligence Working Group (GIWG), one of several issue-focused subgroups of the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (Global) Advisory Committee.1

The GIWG serves as the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council recommended by the IACP summit participants. The GIWG includes members from law enforcement and justice organizations at all levels of government:

  • Local, state, and tribal police agencies
  • Prosecutors
  • Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit
  • State law enforcement intelligence networks
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts
  • Justice Management Institute
  • Major Cities Chiefs Association
  • National Conference of State Legislatures
  • National Sheriffs' Association
  • National White Collar Crime Center
  • Regional Information Sharing Systems
  • Search, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics
  • Counterdrug Intelligence Executive Secretariat
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas
  • Interpol-U.S. National Central Bureau
  • National Drug Intelligence Center
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

How Was the Plan Developed?

Using the Criminal Intelligence Sharing recommendations as a blueprint, the GIWG identified its mission statement:

To develop, build, and support the creation of the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan, which provides law enforcement agencies with the ability to gather, analyze, protect, and share information and intelligence to identify, investigate, prevent, deter, and defeat criminal and terrorist activities, both domestically and internationally, as well as protect the security of our homeland and preserve the rights and freedoms of all Americans.

Using this mission as a foundation, the GIWG members articulated a vision of what the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan should be to local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies:

  • A model intelligence sharing plan
  • A mechanism to promote intelligence-led policing
  • A blueprint for law enforcement administrators to follow when enhancing or building an intelligence system
  • A model for intelligence process principles and policies
  • A plan that respects and protects privacy and civil rights
  • A technology architecture to provide secure, seamless sharing of information among systems
  • A national model for intelligence training
  • A plan that leverages existing systems and networks yet allows flexibility for technological and process advancements
  • An outreach action plan to promote timely and credible intelligence sharing

Expanding on the vision, the GIWG identified more than 25 recommendations and action items for implementation of the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan. Key components of the plan include the following:
  • Providing minimum standards for establishing and managing an intelligence function
  • Establishing the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council to provide a nationally coordinated process for intelligence generation and sharing
  • Offering guidelines for protecting privacy and constitutional rights within the intelligence process
  • Providing model policies and guidelines for implementing or reviewing an agency's intelligence function
  • Recommending methodologies for sharing classified reports
  • Promoting the concepts of standards-based intelligence sharing and intelligence-led policing through education and outreach
  • Issuing training standards for all levels of law enforcement personnel
  • Providing a nationwide, sensitive, but unclassified communications capability for criminal intelligence sharing
  • Recommending fingerprint-based background checks for access to the intelligence systems accessible on the nationwide communications capability

What Are the Challenges?

The GIWG is committed to overcoming longstanding historical barriers that hinder intelligence sharing, as well as future impediments that may develop. It acknowledges that a major task will be informing all relevant communities of the existence of the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan while recognizing that acceptance and implementation of the plan will take time. Ongoing training and education will be key to the successful implementation and continuation of this National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan.

The GIWG understands that intelligence sharing cannot occur without trust between the parties sharing information. Thus, the GIWG will be focusing on increasing communication, strengthening relationships, and building trust between agencies and individuals in the intelligence network.

Melvin Carraway, chairman of the GIWG and superintendent of the Indiana State Police, said, "The Global Intelligence Working Group is focusing on overcoming the impediments to intelligence sharing." Carraway stressed the importance of the GIWG's work to public safety and homeland security: "Making the benefits of the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan clear to patrol officers, detectives, intelligence unit managers, law enforcement executives, and federal officers is key to the GIWG vision."

William B. Berger, chief of police in North Miami Beach, Florida, and past president of the IACP, emphasized the value of a national criminal intelligence sharing plan. He stated, "Imagine the ability to have access to a comprehensive document that would enable law enforcement officials to develop a new system utilizing established and proven policies and standards. The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan will do that and more."♦

The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan and its supporting documents are available at

1 Global, operating under the auspices of OJP, serves as an advisory body to the federal government-specifically through the assistant attorney general, Office of Justice Programs, and the U.S. attorney general-in facilitating standards-based electronic information exchange throughout the justice and public safety communities. The Global Advisory Committee (GAC) is comprised of key personnel from local, state, tribal, federal, and international justice and public safety entities and includes agency executives and policymakers, automation planners and managers, information practitioners, and, most importantly, end users. GAC membership reflects the fundamental Global tenet that the entire justice-interested community must be involved in information sharing. Global working groups, made up of GAC members and other subject matter experts, expand the GAC's knowledge and experience. These groups are formed around timely issues affecting justice information sharing; the GIWG is one of four working groups.



From The Police Chief, vol. 70, no. 11, November 2003. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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