Ronald C. Ruecker, Assistant Director, Office of Law Enforcement Coordination, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, D.C.
he Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is anything but a new player among criminal justice and intelligence partners within the United States and around the world, having celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008. So where does the FBI stand today, and where is it headed in the years to come? Today, the FBI is not just known as a crime-fighting organization, but also as a national security organization with counterterrorism, domestic intelligence, and law enforcement authorities. The FBI employs more than 30 thousand people, including more than 12 thousand special agents. The FBI currently has 56 field offices and more than 400 smaller resident agencies around the United States. The FBI also has 61 legal attaché offices and 15 suboffices in cities around the world in more than 200 countries.
The FBI’s priorities are
- Public corruption
- Civil rights
- Transnational and national criminal enterprises
- Major white-collar crime
- Significant violent crime
- Support federal, state, local, and international partners
- Upgrade technology
The FBI has shifted its time-tested investigative skills, including intelligence gathering, evidence processing, forensics, and witness interviews from investigation and prosecution after the fact to prevention before the fact. The FBI refuses to wait for the next terrorist strike. The FBI mission is to detect and disrupt such strikes before they happen. The same is true for other crimes such as breaking up organized crime rings or violent street gangs. The FBI would rather succeed at preventing than succeed at prosecuting. As a result, it is more difficult to measure success in today’s FBI, especially since law enforcement prefers to measure progress. The FBI could measure how many terrorist camps it shuts down or how many terrorists it apprehends; however, counterterrorism metrics don’t work like this. The FBI cannot measure the absence of damage, but the FBI can ask how many attacks were prevented, how many citizens and communities were kept safe today, or how many lives have been saved.
Terrorism is the FBI’s top priority, and the FBI understands terrorism cannot always be your top priority. More often than not, a law enforcement agency’s top priority is violent crime. However, together we must balance our priorities to address criminal and terrorist threats. The FBI commits to continuing to support other federal and state, local, tribal, and campus (SLTC) law enforcement priorities in every way we can. It is for this reason that our continued collaboration is so important. Regardless of the threat, the FBI faces the same challenges you do. We all need to know what our domains are, where our threats are moving, and how to get there first. We all face limited resources and seemingly unlimited threats. Thus, we know working together is the best way to make the most of our resources. We must continue to share intelligence and collaborate on cases every day. We must learn from one another and form a strong network that will endure into the future. We all have seen the benefits of working together on cases through interagency task forces.
No citizen, no community, no country, and no agency can fight crime and terrorism alone. There are more than 800 thousand police officers, sheriffs, and troopers across the nation. There are thousands more law enforcement and intelligence personnel around the world. We depend upon each of them as our partners. We also depend on our partners in business, academia, and within our communities.
Today, the FBI operates
- 106 Joint Terrorism task forces
- 160 Safe Street Gang task forces
- 42 Violent Crime Safe Street task forces
- 56 Organized Crime Drug Enforcement task forces
- 7 Major Theft task forces
- 18 Safe Trails task forces
- 20 Innocence Lost task forces
- 23 Mortgage Fraud task forces
The FBI also participates and/or liaisons with 71 fusion centers and partners closely with military around the world.
The FBI currently has a dedicated national intelligence workforce embedded at FBI headquarters and in each field office, which is tasked with overseeing all FBI intelligence functions from collecting to analyzing to sharing intelligence. This workforce is responsible for compiling intelligence reports sent to our criminal justice and intelligence partners from the president to the sheriff, the trooper, or the patrolman on the beat.
It is important to note that intelligence is not a new mission for the FBI. The FBI has been successfully collecting intelligence to track and apprehend gangsters, mobsters, terrorists, and spies for more than 100 years. However, since 9/11, the FBI has made dramatic improvements in the way it gathers, analyzes, and distributes intelligence. The FBI is a full partner in the intelligence community under the director of national intelligence. At the FBI, our goal is to know our domain, which means to have a solid understanding of every square inch of the country and any possible threats or targets present. This will be different from region to region.
Looking forward as the FBI moves into its second century of service, we are committed as ever to uphold our mission of protecting the United States against all threats. We will continue to build our capabilities, from world-class intelligence gathering and analysis to state-of-the-art technology. We will continue to build expertise throughout the ranks of our special agents and professional staff through hiring, training, and career development. We will continue to support our other federal and SLTC law enforcement partners as much as we can through task forces, training, and technology. We will continue to grow and expand as our mission becomes more international in scope. Finally, we will continue to change and adapt as threats require, while still holding to our core values and our commitment to civil liberties.
We are bound by the common goals of protecting our communities and our country. We are tearing down walls previously dividing us. We are also still at risk from dangerous, organized, determined terrorists; gang members; drug traffickers; and other criminals; however, their resolve is no match for our collective will. Our greatest weapon against all of them is our unity. So let us take inspiration from the strength of our democracy, our resolve, and our unity. Armed with these strengths, we cannot and will not fail.
Specifically, the FBI Office of Law Enforcement Coordination (OLEC) is tasked with building bridges; strengthening relationships; and promoting new, enhancing existing, and supporting relationships between the FBI and other federal agencies, SLTC law enforcement, law enforcement associations, and others within the law enforcement and intelligence communities. OLEC represents the perspective of police, sheriffs, and troopers within the FBI with respect to the relationships they each have with their law enforcement associations.
Like the FBI, OLEC is evolving using strategy management processes and procedures to enhance established relationships, outreach programs, and liaison functions; is serving as an information broker of FBI programs, resources, and services; is enhancing levels of engagement and participation with our liaisons based on established law enforcement priorities; and is exploring new concepts and opportunities. Following are examples of areas in which OLEC has been seeking greater engagement with our law enforcement partners.
OLEC surveyed our law enforcement associations, providing an opportunity for law enforcement association executive directors and presidents to share in the FBI’s and OLEC’s evolution process. OLEC wanted to find out more about who our partners are, what our customers want from us, what levels of engagement with our customers are possible, and how we can maximize the mutual benefits of our partnerships.
OLEC has heard our partners loud and clear: they want more detailed breaking information provided in a timely manner. Thus, in an effort to close this gap, OLEC has been sending law enforcement association executive directors and presidents breaking bulletins concerning crisis, terrorism, and other matters. OLEC also has been working with law enforcement association executive directors and presidents to get these bulletins into the hands of the rank-and-file police, sheriffs, and troopers on the street.
To better inform our law enforcement partners about FBI programs, resources, and services available to them, OLEC revised an OLEC publication sent to our law enforcement associations, the FBI’s law enforcement online, and all 56 FBI field offices for dissemination to our other federal and SLTC law enforcement partners. The old publication, Heads Up, was a republication of valuable law enforcement articles from within the law enforcement community. The new publication, Your FBI Today, released in Summer 2010, highlights the FBI’s Cyber Division. Future publications will highlight other FBI headquarters divisions and the programs, the resources, and the services available to our SLTC law enforcement partners.
To better inform our federal and SLTC law enforcement partners about FBI programs, resources, and services, available to them, OLEC, with support from FBI executive leadership, including special agents in charge of FBI field offices, produced an informational guide for chiefs and sheriffs to use as a resource highlighting FBI programs, resources, and services—ideal to have at their ready during a time of crisis.
OLEC is also in the process of identifying law enforcement associations who have an interest in partnering with OLEC to have OLEC special agents and/or professional support personnel participate in a detail program at their respective law enforcement associations, working together on law enforcement topics of mutual interest.
Finally, OLEC continues to enhance and expand its Police Executive Fellowship Program, a six-month program for SLTC law enforcement executives to work at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Fellows contribute their expertise and provide a local perspective to national and international law enforcement issues. Some of the FBI components participating in this program include the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Terrorist Screening Center, the National Gang Intelligence Center, and the MS-13 Gang Task Force. Executive fellows receive lodging, subsistence, and travel costs and are afforded three roundtrips home.
For additional information about FBI programs, resources, or services; OLEC; and partnership opportunities, contact OLEC Assistant Director Ronald C. Ruecker at 202-324-7126 or OLEC@leo.gov. ■
Please cite as:
Ronald C. Ruecker, "From the Assistant Director," The Police Chief 77 (October 2010): 16–18, http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CPIM1010/#/16 (insert access date).