Our regular commentator John Buckley steps away from his usual topic of managing confidential informants to discuss the wider issue of intelligence led policing:
Unfortunately, there remain a significant number of senior managers in law enforcement who have no real understanding of the concept of intelligence led policing and how it should be used to protect citizens and enhance public safety. All too often we find managers who may mention ‘intelligence led policing’ in a sound-bite but then continue the conversation by demonstrating their lack of understanding of what the concept entails. It is therefore refreshing to read of a Chief who not only advocates the concept but actually gets what it is about. In an article for the Baltimore Sun newspaper dated 31st March 1013, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-batts-homicide-20130330,0,535844.story. Referring to ‘five strategic pillars’, not only captures the key points of intelligence led policing but pretty much gets them in the order in which they should be considered. We can explore how the Police Department’s strategy follows the concept of intelligence led policing:
- “…concentration on violent offenders, gang members and guns…” The first thing to do in intelligence led policing is for a Chief to identify their policing priorities and make sure that the police department is working towards those priorities. Law enforcement has limited resources. They can’t do everything and it is the Chief’s job to decide what are the most important things for their department to deal with.
- 2. “…community engagement.” There are many who perceive intelligence led policing as being a concept that is in conflict with that of community policing. In reality it is the opposite – intelligence led policing and community policing feed off each other. There should be no conflict. It is from within communities that a significant amount of information for intelligence purposes will originate. If law enforcement officers are not in those communities then they won’t get the intelligence they need to protect those communities.
- “…creating an ability to produce more actionable and timely intelligence…” Unless an agency puts in place structures to collect information, process it to intelligence and use that intelligence to combat crime it is failing in its duty. It should be noted that intelligence is not analysis of crime figures. While analysing crime statistics can help it should never be confused with intelligence led policing.
- 4. “…encouraging better data-sharing with our state and federal partners…” There is little point in having intelligence unless structures are in place to share it internally and externally with those who can make use of it. All too often intelligence ends up in some detective’s desk drawer or hidden forever in a stand alone computer.
- 5. “…ethics, integrity and accountability.” Gathering and using intelligence by its very nature engages civil liberty issues and raises legitimate concerns with the public. Furthermore, many intelligence gathering techniques involve significant risks, all of which need to be documented and managed. Only by building intelligence management structures that operate on an ethical basis and keeping effective records can law enforcement hope to maintain community support for intelligence related activities.
Intelligence led policing strategy is a highly effective policing strategy. It can be implemented within any police agency and if done properly will enhance public safety and prevent crime. Unfortunately, while many are happy to talk the talk, fewer take the time to understand the how to actually walk the walk.
John regularly advises ABM in relation to the development of abmpegasus™ software for managing intelligence. His latest title, Managing Intelligence; A Guide for Law Enforcement Professionals, will be published in September. John can be reached at email@example.com
abmpegasus™ is a modular piece of expert-led software that helps law enforcement agencies and police manage information, intelligence and covert operations in accordance with best practice, policy and legislation.
If you would like more information on the abmpegasus intelligence management software please contact Dawn Starling on firstname.lastname@example.org t: +1 703-326-1366 or complete an ABM Software contact form and a member of our team will get in touch.