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Back to Archives | Back to November 2003 Contents 

LEIN: The Iowa Law Enforcement Intelligence Network

Russell M. Porter, Special Agent in Charge, Intelligence Bureau, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Des Moines, Iowa


LEIN has broken down the barriers existing within law enforcement . . . It's cut down suspicions about other agencies involved, and created a feeling of trust.

-Douglas W. Book, Chief of Police, Forest City, Iowa (Life Member, IACP)

In 1984, Iowa law enforcement agencies established the Iowa Law Enforcement Intelligence Network, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. Since then, LEIN programs have been implemented in several other states. Key features of the LEIN concept include the following:

Local governance, state coordination: Iowa LEIN is governed by a seven-member executive board, six of whom are local law enforcement officers who are elected annually by their fellow LEIN members from across the state. The seventh member and chairperson of the executive board is the state LEIN coordinator (a special agent with the Iowa Department of Public Safety Intelligence Bureau).

Training: To become an Iowa LEIN member, state and local law enforcement officers must complete a two-week criminal intelligence course conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS). Members also meet annually in the fall for a three-day training conference. There are no membership fees. Most program costs are borne by DPS.

Trust and personal relationships: LEIN's most important assets are its members, and the trust and personal relationships that are developed to facilitate the sharing of information. As of October 2003, Iowa LEIN's membership consisted of nearly 800 Iowa law enforcement officers from more than 200 agencies.

Information gathering and intelligence dissemination: After attending the two-week criminal intelligence course, LEIN members return to their jurisdictions, gather information, and report it to the DPS Intelligence Bureau, which serves as LEIN's central coordinating agency (or CCA). At the CCA, the information is analyzed, and the intelligence is disseminated to other LEIN members, as requested by the contributor.

Information sharing meetings: The state is geographically divided into six regions, and LEIN members attend monthly informational law enforcement meetings in their respective region of the state. Summaries from those meetings-more than 65 meetings each year-are also forwarded to the LEIN CCA for analysis and dissemination.

Task force operations: When crime problems and criminal suspects are identified, LEIN members develop an operational plan, organize a temporary, project-specific task force, and work together to neutralize the criminal activity and apprehend the offenders responsible. Particular attention is given to crimes involving traveling criminals, career criminals, and conspiratorial criminal activity (including terrorism and organized crime).
Specialized technical equipment: Specialized intelligence, surveillance, and other electronic technical support equipment is made available at no cost to LEIN members from an existing equipment pool.

Electronic access to information and intelligence: The LEIN CCA operates a computer Web server that provides access to static Web pages containing law enforcement-sensitive information as well as to a Web-based criminal intelligence database. This Web server is connected to the Iowa Online Warrants and Articles (IOWA) law enforcement telecommunications system as well as to the Regional Information Sharing Systems' RISS.net network. These systems make intelligence data available to system users around the clock, in a secure networked environment.

Affiliation and integration with other initiatives: Iowa LEIN has established trusted, cooperative affiliations with other initiatives, such as the Mid-states Organized Crime Information Center (MOCIC), the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU), the Iowa Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) and the multijurisdictional drug task forces in the state, the Anti-Terrorism Task Forces (ATTFs) at the U.S. attorney's offices for the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa, and the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) in Iowa. These professional alliances help LEIN members exchange more information with others, and do it more quickly and efficiently.


A Model for State and Federal Programs
In recognition of the success and transferability of the program, Iowa LEIN received the Innovations award in 1986 from the Council of State Governments. The program has since been replicated by state and local law enforcement in other states, including Illinois, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. The LEIN concept also served as the foundation for the Interpol state liaison program, now established in all 50 states.

LEIN is an effective program that can be readily implemented in other states. LEIN helps law enforcement agencies provide the highest quality service to the public, turning people, information, and technology into action-to achieve LEIN's motto, Excellence through Cooperation.

For more information about LEIN, write to the state LEIN coordinator at the Law Enforcement Intelligence Network, Intelligence Bureau, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Wallace State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319-0049; call 515-242-6124; send a fax to 515-281-6108; send an e-mail message to lein@dps.state.ia.us; or visit http://www.dps.state.ia.us/intell/lein/index.htm.

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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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