Information sharing is a paramount strategy between law enforcement bodies in the U.S. In fact, sharing of information amongst state, local, and federal agencies is a key element of the homeland security strategy. Communication is an essential component for federal agencies, especially after the 9/11 threat, which demands a trusted partnership between these agencies, which is facilitated by making information sharing interconnected, integrated, automatic and effective for the sole purpose of ensuring national security. Law enforcement agencies heavily depend on information and communication to avert possible attacks. In essence, if the law enforcement agencies know of a possible attack, then communication becomes essential, especially in fighting criminal activities. The need for effective communication is exacerbated by the fact that the most of the information sharing occurs digitally via online platforms, such as social media. Many youthful offenders network, communicate, boast, socialize, and reveal their conduct on the Web, mainly via smartphones, email platforms, as well as social media, and thus, the law enforcement authorities must always monitor these platforms for possible threats to homeland security.
The current communication systems need a small investment for implementation, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. The technological advancements mean that the federal authorities can access information faster and more conveniently. Also, the technology opens doors to more valuable information that can be used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in preventing terror attacks (Burruss, Giblin & Schafer, 2010). However, various obstacles prevent law enforcement agencies from accessing the valuable information. Some of the solutions to ineffective communication among these bodies include resource sharing and regionalization, which subsequently addresses some of the issues, for example, budgetary matters and priorities.
Effective communication among law enforcement agencies should be stressed because these agencies serve as the first line defense fort the country against potential threats (Giles et al., 2006). Besides, these agencies are the best resources for identifying criminals, apprehending them, as well as preventing and disrupting crime in the U.S. However, in the country, there are differences that exist between rural and urban policing that can hinder effective communication among the law enforcement agencies. For this reason, efforts geared towards fostering better communication should be implemented, which are characterized by taking proactive measures intended to better homeland security through creation of reports on suspicious criminal activity reports, identification of crime and criminal behavior trends and patterns, as well as identifying possible interlinks with terrorist groups and domestic militias and hate groups. Since homeland security is a priority, the agencies rely on their frontline law enforcement partners for crime information. Therefore, if an environment exists that promotes informational sharing by allowing all officers to possess the knowledge, and subsequently use it to communicate, coordinate, and cooperate, better results in the prevention of crime can be achieved (Giles et al., 2006).
For this reason, actionable intelligence is a valuable asset in the disruption and prevention of crime (Randol, 2010). Essentially, better results and performance are enhanced whenever the law enforcement agencies tailor their focus and cooperation in informational sharing, which can be used in bettering intelligence, and evidence-based operation in the U.S. However, the gaps that exist between urban and rural settings impact negatively on communication among the agencies. For large cities, agencies frequently meet so as to share intelligence and information, but for large geographical areas, they are broken down into regions or zones that subsequently allow for more crime focus (Randol, 2010). For this reason, ensuring that there is a breakdown into zones of large areas, communication becomes more effective, and the law enforcement agencies can, in turn, ensure that intelligence and communication aspects are better, thereby allowing for better performance on preventing instances of crime. In many occasions, officers use cellular phones and computers in the zones, making it easier for communication to take place. For rural areas, roll calls, as opposed to the urban areas, do not take place, and thus, the officers often will use laptops and phones. For this reason, this makes it hard for information to be readily available.
To prevent this, various approaches can be used by the agencies. Firstly, they can adopt an intelligence-led policing (ILP), which improves intelligence and information sharing (McGarrell, Freilich, & Chermak, 2007). It entails the use of full-time intelligence analysis to perform duties that subsequently allow for increased communication, cooperation, interconnectedness, and coordination among the different agencies responsible for homeland security, such as the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) regardless of whether their jurisdiction falls in the urban or rural areas (Ratcliffe & Guidetti, 2008). Besides, they can also adopt the Law Enforcement Online, which is a platform for ensuring controlled-access and real-time communications and information-sharing repository. ILP embraces the inclusion rural officers to access current technologies such as blackberries and smartphones, for real-time purposes, as well as allowing them to relate the past and present data on intelligence (McGarrell, Freilich, & Chermak, 2007). Besides, rural sheriffs and police chiefs can also work together using a central information center or collection, allowing for effective dissemination and analysis of crime data, thereby necessitating common interest and shared credit, productivity, and gains. For this reason, rural enforcement agencies should shift towards an ILP culture, which will benefit federal and state stakeholders. It provides real-time information about criminal activities. Besides, it also provides information about probation and state parole officers, as well as responsible federal officers based on their jurisdiction. By maintaining a two-way traffic communication, achieving homeland security will be significantly improved.
To incorporate the ILP, three processes are required. Firstly, there needs to be the incorporation of the ILP model, which upholds that data analysis and criminal intelligence are vital to objective decision-making framework, which enables crime reduction, prevention, and disruption through strategic management, as well as effective enforcement tactics by targeting serious and prolific criminals and offenders (McGarrell, Freilich, & Chermak, 2007). Secondly, there needs to be the inclusion of guidelines that protect confidentiality and privacy, which is mandatory if the system is supported by the federal funds. Intelligence gathering, as well as the pooling of intelligence can lead to effective policing, but its sharing and collection have privacy concerns. Since its support is the federal funds, the agency should apply the Criminal Intelligence Systems Operating Polices at Title 28, which is the Code of Federal Regulations, part 23. Thirdly, as McGarrell, Freilich, and Chermak, (2007) highlight, effective communication can only be achieved if the stakeholders are brought together by a system that allows them to participate.
Besides ILP, the law enforcement agencies should capitalize on the FBIs Criminal Justice Information Services that allows for information sharing using state-of-the-art technologies, as well as statistical services that span the criminal justice community. For this reason, since the CJIS system incorporates crime information into a database, such as automated fingerprint systems, crime statistics, these should be shared among other law enforcement agencies. However, there are communication issues in that the information should be closely guarded using secure communication channels. Therefore, these agencies should have intercommunication strategies, which is facilitated by the Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal, which allows for centralized access to intelligence, which allows case development and paves the way for investigations. In essence, this enhances intelligence and information sharing, thereby impacting positively on communication (Ratcliffe & Guidetti, 2008). Besides, the law enforcement agencies benefit from the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), which is the countrys criminal fingerprint identification system (ISE, n.d). Essentially, if the agencies share this, then it facilitates easy communication among the agencies primarily because the agencies can identify criminals just by scanning their fingerprints. The information is relayed immediately and thereby; it can mitigate or prevent crime activity. As such, technology has allowed the agencies to share information. The Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) has been vital in combatting illegal drug trafficking, identification of theft, human trafficking, terrorist activities, and violent crime, and also significantly promotes officer safety (ISE, n.d).
Additionally, the law enforcement officers need to capitalize on the National Data Exchange (N-Dex), which supports law enforcement, multi-jurisdictional task forces and criminal justice agencies, which allows for easier information sharing across the tribal, regional, local, state, and federal investigative agencies, In essence, this allows for the law enforcement agencies to bring together investigative data for crime activities in the country, as well as case and incident reports, probation, booking, as well as incarceration data and information. Ideally, N-Dex provides advanced data exploitation tools in identifying correlations and relationships between crime characteristics and people, location, and property (ISE, n.d). For this reason, it can be concluded that communication among the law enforcement agencies is paramount to effectively fight crime. Essentially, it improves and enhances performance and results because the law enforcement agencies tailor their focus toward evidence and intelligence and base operation, as well as adding core values of responsible stewardship.
Burruss, G. W., Giblin, M. J., & Schafer, J. A. (2010). Threatened globally, acting locally: Modeling law enforcement homeland security practices. Justice Quarterly, 27(1), 77-101.
Giles, H., Fortman, J., Dailey, R., Barker, V., Hajek, C., Anderson, M. C., & Rule, N. O. (2006). Communication accommodation: Law enforcement and the public. Applied interpersonal communication matters: Family, health, and community relations, 5, 241-269.
ISE (n.d). Law Enforcement Information Sharing. Retrieved from https://www.ise.gov/law-enforcement-information-sharing
McGarrell, E. F., Freilich, J. D., & Chermak, S. (2007). Intelligence-led policing as a framework for responding to terrorism. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 23(2), 142-158.
Ratcliffe, J. H., & Guidetti, R. (2008). State police investigative structure and the adoption of intelligence-led policing. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 31(1), 109-128.
Randol, M. A. (2010). Homeland Security Intelligence: Perceptions, Statutory Definitions, and Approaches. Collingdale, PA: Diane Publishing.
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