Law Enforcement Intelligence Processes

Law Enforcement Intelligence Processes

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     The fundamental key for any successful intelligence mission is the ability to access information from the different intelligence disciplines: Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Measures and Signals Intelligence (MASINT), Human Intelligence (HUMINT), and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). These five disciplines are in essence the only way for the analyst to gather information, short of actually traveling the world to investigate hands on.
     The development of intelligence within the law enforcement field began in the early 20th century as a collection method during the investigation of organized crime organizations. The Sicilian crime families across the United States were the focal point from the 1940s to the 1980s, which were known as the La Cosa Nostra or the Mafia.
During the 1980s, law enforcement realized that other organizations were sprouting up into a new era in organized crime. Today’s analysts are responsible for investigating and analyzing information on other non-traditional crime organizations like drug cartels, outlaw motorcycle gangs, street gangs, and various other non-Sicilian Mafia organizations.
     The common denominators in all organized criminal activities are violence, corruption, and organization. The problem of dealing with the new non-traditional organizations is that there is not an extensive amount of information on each organization spanning over the last couple of decades. New information must be acquired, recorded, and filed. Modern technology has been crucial in the latter for creating databases.
     One of the most imperative pieces to completing any organized crime scenario are the day in and day out facts of how the organization was ran, what people were contacted, and the different types of activities that were illegally preformed. The analyst must be able to obtain information in order to make an analysis of what or who may or may not be at the root of a crime(s). This type of information can be found in law enforcement files, which are now moving towards electronically storing information. The analyst must be especially computer literate in order to research criminal activity and association.
One device that the analyst has available is the Internet. Although this is not the only open source information-collecting device, it is one of the most commonly used open source methods. The problem of the “wheat versus chaff” can be realized very easily at any search engine. The Internet can be a very valuable tool for the analyst, but can also be a very time-consuming and an overwhelming obstacle if the analyst does not know how to overcome the problems of over-information.

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This is the main reason why law enforcement agencies had to develop individual databases for storing information.     
The new electronic storage of information does pose a couple of problems. The first being that to much information stored can lead to the “wheat versus chaff” problem, meaning that the analyst will have to decipher what information is good and useful and what information is not. With the large capacity of computers, it can be difficult to find only the information that is needed without running into all kinds of other unrelated information. In order to have a good information storage file, there must be an easy way to get to the file that is needed fast.
     Another problem with storing information is in relation to covert activities. Some of these operations require the utmost secrecy and the passing on of knowledge could compromise the mission and even put lives at dire risk. The protection of covert operations as well as undercover agents is one of the reasons that collected information must be classified by different categories.
     The “need to know” solution to information resources gives only personnel that are key to investigating and analyzing criminal activity. For this reason, most of the information that law enforcement agencies collect is classified from the average citizen as well as the criminal population. If the criminal organization had knowledge of what was being collected on the group’s activities, it could make the collectors tasks more difficult. Having no knowledge of what is being observed and collected is what makes many of the criminal organizations so paranoid.
     Part of the collection of information is to figure out what type of information is needed and how fast this information has to be delivered for processing or filing. Some information must be received immediately in order to complete the investigation on time. Other information can be received weekly, monthly, or yearly. There are other factors that must be considered during the dissemination phase as well.
Once the information is received and before it is filed it must be assessed as to how reliable it is. Not all collected can be relied upon, especially when it comes to informants or other associated personnel. Sometimes these individuals may have alternative motives to giving up information like revenge for example. For this reason, the information that is collected will need to show how reliable it is. This will also alleviate the need for disclosing how the information was obtained. If the source of the information was an intelligence or police officer, than the validity will be high.
In reading the materials over the past couple of weeks, I have come to realize that the investigating officer(s) and the intelligence analyst(s) have a larger job than I thought. Especially when it comes to organized crime, the day in and out collection of information that has to be analyzed is staggering. I haven’t really studied law enforcement up to this point, unless you call watching shows like “CSI” or “NYPD Blue” studying. The problem with watching these shows has developed a process in my mind that states, “The information is there, just be observant and the crime will be solved”.
Furthermore, I do agree with the way that law enforcement is creating their own databases. There is now way to avoid compromising information if it is online out in cyberspace. The problem of the “wheat versus chaff” had been one of my personal obstacles for a while, until I became more familiar with how to utilize the search engines. Overall, I found text on the collection processes and the intelligence products fairly easy to understand.
Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2000. (Chap 5 and 6)

CT: Praeger Publishers, 1998. (Chap 5)

ELEMENTS. Sacramento, CA: LEIU, 2000. (pg 7, Chap 5-7)

Mission, KS: Varro Press, 1996. (Sec 16 pg 191)
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