President’s Message: The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan

On May 14, the IACP joined together with the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and other representatives of the federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement community to endorse the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (NCISP). This event marked an important milestone in a critical journey that began at the IACP annual conference in 2001. It was at that meeting that the membership of the IACP identified the need for a comprehensive assessment to identify the inadequacies of the intelligence process that, in part, led to the failure to prevent the tragic events of September 11.

As a result, law enforcement executives and intelligence experts joined together at the IACP Criminal Intelligence Sharing Summit in March 2002 and articulated a proposal for an intelligence sharing plan that envisioned local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies fully participating with federal agencies to coordinate, collect, analyze, and appropriately disseminate criminal intelligence information across the United States. After the summit, the Department of Justice, through its Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (Global) Advisory Committee, established the Global Intelligence Working Group and charged it with implementing the summits recommendations.

Under the leadership of its chairman, Indiana State Police Superintendent Mel Carraway, the Global Intelligence Working Group did remarkable work in developing the NCISP. It is also clear that the plan has been well received by the law enforcement community. This is evidenced by adoption of a resolution of support from the more than 19,000 members of the IACP at our annual conference in Philadelphia last fall.

In my opinion, the NCISP has been so well received because law enforcement executives know how important this effort is to the future of law enforcement operations in this nation. As we all know, law enforcement is a profession that depends on accurate and timely intelligence to fulfill its mission of protecting the citizens and communities of this nation. Unfortunately, although law enforcement agencies do a magnificent job of collecting intelligence, all too often they do a poor job of sharing it.

This change could not come at a more crucial time. For although the primary mission of law enforcement agencies has always been to ensure public safety, the tragic events of September 11, 2001, dramatically and significantly changed the focus of law enforcement operations. Suddenly, agencies and officers who have been trained and equipped to deal with more traditional crimes are now focused on apprehending individuals operating with different motivations, who have different objectives and who use much deadlier weapons than traditional criminals. Law enforcement is fighting a new battle and must move beyond its traditional method of operation. We must ensure that our law enforcement agencies and officers are prepared to combat not only criminals but also terrorists.

The key to success in this battle is intelligence sharing. Protecting potential targets will not stop terrorism; it will only force the terrorists to find another less protected target. Society cannot invest enough resources to protect everything, everywhere, at all times. No matter how hard we try to protect people, places, and events, there will always be soft targets available for terrorists to attack. To put it simply, stopping terrorism has very little to do with controlling access or the thickness of our concrete barricades. Defeating terrorism requires going after terrorists and taking their groups apart before they can strike.

The September 11 attacks clearly demonstrated that law enforcement agencies at all levels must establish effective intelligence sharing and working relationships with one another. For far too long, efforts to combat crime and terrorism have been handicapped by jurisdictional squabbles and archaic rules that prevented us from forging cooperative working relationships with our counterparts in local, regional, tribal, and federal law enforcement. This must end.

It is the IACP’s belief that the willingness and the ability of federal homeland security forces to work effectively with state, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies around the country will be the deciding factor in the ultimate success or failure of our missions.

That is why the work that has been accomplished by the IACP and Global in developing the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan is so important.

But it is also important to remember that the National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan represents only the start of a process that will require the full participation of all federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement and homeland security agencies. We must work together to overcome the barriers and obstacles that confront us and forge a new partnership that will allow us to fulfill our mission and keep our promise to the citizens we are sworn to protect.