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Back to Archives | Back to December 2009 Contents 

From the Acting Director: The Bureau of Justice Assistance: The DOJ’s Global Initiative and Partnerships as the Keys to Success

James H. Burch II, Acting Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance

o begin, I want to congratulate the IACP on another outstanding annual conference. As I attended the sessions, I thought about why this event—even during tough economic times—consistently draws large numbers. And I believe the reason the IACP conference is so successful is because it provides the critical building blocks for success in law enforcement today. These building blocks are also the fundamental tenets of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA’s)1 strategy for supporting state and local law enforcement:

  • Promoting capacity—the ability to do our jobs better—through innovative solutions (including technological advancements).

  • Emphasizing the importance of training and technical assistance to implement these solutions (a key value proposition of the IACP event).

  • An overarching imperative: partnerships. It is incredibly encouraging that now more than ever, colleagues and practitioners at all levels of government recognize that the greater good of a strong, fair justice system for our neighbors and the United States is best achieved through collaboration. Similarly, we need to leverage and consistently “partner” or implement the best solutions to address our most pressing problem for maximum efficiency (no need to reinvent the wheel) and effectiveness (promoting interoperability of policies, programs, and information through standardized approaches).

Illustrative of these points, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the BJA-supported Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (Global)2 and outline how the Global recommendations are being leveraged by the National Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) Initiative (NSI).

U.S. DOJ’s Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative

IACP members participate in the Global Initiative and its Global Advisory Committee (GAC) through representation appointees Chief Harlin McEwen, Colonel Rick Fuentes, and Director Ed Reina. The GAC was chartered in 1998 as the Federal Advisory Committee on standards-based information sharing to the U.S. Attorney General and is the voice of local, state, and tribal justice agencies to the Department of Justice on information-sharing issues. By virtue of that premier position, GAC efforts directly affect the work of more than 1.2 million justice professionals, positioning Global to influence citizens of the United States, Canada, and beyond.

Partnering across agency and party lines, and including industry participation, the Committee exemplifies partnerships: GAC members represent 32 key organizations from across the justice landscape, at all levels of government. The IACP was an inaugural GAC member agency and holds a prominent seat at the by-invitation-only table. Over the past 10-plus years, through a long-standing collaborative process, the GAC has developed an invaluable commodity—trust—resulting in a willingness to reconcile proprietary issues in pursuit of a common goal shared by the IACP, BJA, and Global alike: to safeguard our nation’s public while ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. It is important to note that the central foundation of all DOJ and Global activities is the vigorous protection of privacy rights and civil liberties.

The Global Initiative supports many IACP and DOJ priorities, such as the following:

  • Cybersecurity, access and authentication solutions, and a move toward single sign-on through the Global Federated Identity and Privilege Management (GFIPM) framework. GFIPM is part of the essential technological foundation to protect the security of the United States and the privacy of its people in the justice data exchange process by ensuring that only the right people get the right information, and GFIPM is the security component of the Justice Reference Architecture (JRA). The JRA provides an efficient, cost-effective architecture blueprint by harnessing the innovative power of Service-Oriented Architecture; in fact, BJA has received consistent feedback from the field that the JRA is saving local jurisdictions 80 to 85 percent in production costs and development time.

  • Protecting U.S. children—The Global Justice XML Data Model National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) standards safeguard U.S. children through the Amber Alert and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Web site.

  • Preparing for challenges and potential crises, such as bioterrorist attacks and pandemics, by linking critical partners that traditionally have not shared information (such as law enforcement with health-care agencies, transportation, and national infrastructure) through NIEM.

  • Protecting civil liberties through Global’s heavily leveraged resource, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Policy Development Guide and Implementation Templates.

  • Improving America’s intelligence capabilities with resources and recommendations to guide and support fusion centers, leveraging existing Global intelligence products (the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan), supporting development of new resources (Fusion Center Guidelines and Baseline Capabilities for State and Major Urban Area Fusion Centers), and providing a consistent national framework for fusion centers. A key component of law enforcement’s enhanced intelligence capacity is a standardized approach to Suspicious Activity Reporting.

The Nationwide SAR Initiative: An Unprecedented Partnership

The Nationwide SAR Initiative (NSI)3 is a historic partnership among local, state, tribal, and federal agencies (including BJA, DOJ, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security [DHS], the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI]). The NSI establishes a national capacity to accomplish what law enforcement agencies have been doing for years—gathering information regarding behaviors and incidents associated with crime to “connect the dots”—and establishes a standardized approach to sharing information with the goals of detecting and preventing criminal activity, including information associated with terrorism-related activities.

The U.S. DOJ’s Global has been instrumental in the NSI. Application of Global products previously noted (privacy policy work, NIEM standard, GFIPM framework, and a wealth of Global intelligence-related recommendations) has helped to expedite the NSI implementation.

A number of SAR successes have been achieved through the partnership of the NSI, including the passage of SAR resolutions by the IACP, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, and the National Sheriffs’ Association; the establishment of the ISE-SAR Evaluation Environment (ISE-SAR EE), designed to assess the value of the ISE-SAR process in advancing counterterrorism goals; and valuable documentation.

Currently, 12 sites4 are involved in the ISE-SAR EE, designed to assess the value of the ISE-SAR process in advancing counterterrorism goals. Once each site installs and tests the necessary equipment, receives appropriate training, and has required privacy policies in place, it begins sharing information in the ISE Shared Spaces, a distributed data system making terrorism-related information available through common terrorism information-sharing standards, applications, and services. As previously noted, the FBI is a critical partner, contributing its eGuardian system as one of many methods by which information may be entered or discovered in the ISE Shared Spaces. eGuardian will be the connection between the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and the ISE-SAR Shared Spaces servers. eGuardian will function as one of the ISE Shared Spaces, as will DHS. The involvement of multiple federal agencies in this coordinated effort will help ensure that relevant pieces of information that may be indicative of a terrorist event or activity are shared.

As previously noted, a linchpin to successful implementation is training and technical assistance. Several separate but coordinated ISE-SAR training efforts are in progress, targeting law enforcement professionals with varying duties and responsibilities. Training is currently offered to participants of the ISE-SAR EE but will ultimately be delivered toward the envisioned nationwide capability. The line officer training efforts were led by IACP and focus on understanding the critical role line officers have in the effective implementation of the SAR process.

Looking ahead, the ISE-SAR EE sites will continue to be brought online, and, as the required policies are put in place, the necessary technology, training, and technical assistance will be provided to continue to pilot the ISE-SAR process. The centers participating in the next phase of the project will all continue to be assessed and be included in the NSI. It bears reemphasizing that the NSI was built through an unprecedented partnership among local, state, tribal, and federal agencies. I am confident that this effective collaboration—just as with the Global Initiative and the general spirit of cooperation championed by the IACP and BJA—will ensure the success of the NSI and provide law enforcement with another tool to combat crime and terrorism.

In closing, I appreciate the opportunity to tell the Police Chief readers about the Global Initiative and NSI efforts—two activities supported by IACP involvement for the benefit of your peers at all levels of law enforcement and agency size. This is an exciting time in law enforcement: We have a range of resources and recommendations on the cusp of large-scale implementation that could provide unprecedented, yet appropriate data exchange capabilities. Even if some of the “hows” of these solutions are fairly technical, the value proposition is easy to understand: enhanced access to information without jeopardizing privacy and civil liberties, protecting our own, our nation as a whole, and each and every one of those we have sworn to serve and protect in neighborhoods across the United States. ⒒

James H. Burch II is the Acting Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, where he has served for nearly 15 years. Having come from a family of law enforcement and public safety officers, Mr. Burch has dedicated his professional career to bringing local justice needs and understanding to the forefront of BJA efforts and, as a result, serving local justice and public safety in a more responsive and responsible manner.


1For more information on BJA, please visit
2For more information on U.S. DOJ’s Global Initiative, please visit
3For more on the NSI, please visit
4Florida; New York; Virginia; Boston; Miami-Dade; Chicago; Los Angeles; Seattle; Houston; Las Vegas; Washington, D.C.; and Arizona.



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXVI, no. 12, December 2009. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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