The use of intelligence within law enforcement intelligence agencies is not always perfect. There may be a way to safeguard against the misuse of intelligence processes to assure proper use it at all times, but it has not yet been discovered. The only way that agencies can try and control the misuse of intelligence is to study the historical failures of the past. It is of most important to protect United States citizens’ right to the freedom of speech.
For the average American it is hard to understand why the government does not viciously target extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party; but it is necessary to protect the rights of these groups or the overall rights of every citizen could be compromised. The fifties gave a good example of how the government could abuse the law and compromise the freedoms of the citizens. Senator Joseph McCarthy was at the spearhead to try and squash out the threat of communism.
In the process of identifying supporters of the anti-American communistic ideas, McCarthy also investigated and sometimes ruined the lives of anyone that stood in his way. Many Americans were discredited before McCarthy and his actions were discovered as improper use of the Congressional investigation process. The extremist movement within the United States is formulated out of citizens that are enraged against improper governmental control.
These groups feel that unless they rise up against the ignorance and oppressive government, then the government’s power will only be enhanced until finally smothering all the rights of those without enough power to fight back. The extremist groups main tool is provocation, and the only way for the government to properly fight these groups without compromising the rights of all citizens, is to allow the message to be heard as long as the rights and liberties of no other citizen is compromised.
In order to change from the abuses of the past, there must be an understanding of what is true. Many times intelligence is misunderstood and the following are statements that are misguided, but often thought to be true: 1) All law enforcement agencies can engage in intelligence, 2) Intelligence can be performed by any member of a police department, 3) Intelligence systems are essentially information systems, and 4) Intelligence is nothing more than being prepared.
There is confusion over these topics which brings the necessity to revisit the basic elements of intelligence that Intelligence is a specialization, is critical, is measurable, seldom seeks publicity, targets organized crime problems that are often ignored by other, and require attention to detail. Many times intelligence can be lost due to hasty deadlines or lack of analyst present.
Valuable information on police reports must be processed in order to maintain and file away for possible future use, or many times information is passed over phone lines and then not recorded on paper are only a couple of mistakes that can be made when trying to push to meet a deadline. The analyst must have time to go over every detail in order to draw a final conclusion and build the best intelligence product. Another example of a loss of intelligence is most greatly seen in the drug wars. The cartels have a great amount of money, which is sometimes overwhelming to some police officers that are willing to look the other way for a price.
There is no way to totally avoid the bait that the wealthy cartels can use to try and find law enforcement officials that will help them out, but through education and morality training the police officer has a chance. When the wrong person gains intelligence information than many lives are put at risk. Covert operations are given one of the highest security levels in order to protect the lives of those members of law enforcement that are serving undercover. It is up to everyone, whether they possess a clearance or not, to ensure that no one without the right to know and the need to know gains access to intelligence information.
Other problems that are faced within law enforcement intelligence are failure to share, lack of training, and lack of cooperation. It is up to the officers in charge to ensure that all members of their unit are properly trained and understand that information that is discovered must be shared with any other agency that needs it, as long as it does not compromise the current mission. Cooperating with other units will also greatly increase the chance that the information will travel in both directions.
There are many professional organizations that are available to law enforcement agencies for training and informative systems. The Regional Systems Sharing System (RISS) was designed to encourage the sharing and cooperation process among law enforcement intelligence agencies. The RISS program has acquired over 4,500 agencies that all sponsor and support the program, which was designed for the purpose of sharing information. The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program is a federal program that provides funds to help fight against the drug problems that are the result of drug trafficking.
There have been 31 areas that operate in 40 states, which have been designated as HIDTA and the key priorities of the program are to assess regional drug threats; design strategies to focus efforts that combat drug trafficking threats; develop and fund initiatives to implement strategies; facilitate coordination between federal, state and local efforts; and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of drug control efforts to reduce or eliminate the harmful impact of drug trafficking.
Other law enforcement intelligence agencies include the National Drug Intelligence Center, The El Paso Intelligence Center, and The Financial Crime Enforcement Network to name a few. It is important to remember that even though these organizations exist, they alone will not provide the law enforcement agency with intelligence products all the time. A little information may have to be received from a couple of different agencies and then fused together to build the product that the investigating agency may want to build.
So to can be said about software applications, they are only the storage and presentation arenas for information. There are five general categories of software applications: Graphics, financial, statistical, database, and desktop publishing. Criminal intelligence databases and applications help analysts to store their information in an easily accessible filing system in order to retrieve it for later use or to help them to share it with other agencies. The analyst must understand how to use these mechanisms in order to achieve optimal information retrieval.
The databases and applications are also used to build intelligence products that give a complete and total picture for the investigating officer. The applications that the databases can provide are data entry, data visualization, query mechanisms, dissemination, and a purge review. There are many challenges that law enforcement agencies are facing. Terrorism is one of the problems that America is facing on an international level, but terrorism also exists on a domestic level. Take for instance the bombing of abortion clinics that have in the recent years plagued the Midwest of the United States.
These are acts that are used to try and coerce medical professionals to stop clinical practices. Other challenges that are faced by law enforcement agencies counterfeiting, prostitution, narcotics, organized crime, and many more are greatly hindered by the use of the computer. The intelligence analysts of the twenty-first century has an outstanding weapon that does not require range practice and does not have a lot of safety hazards, the computer. In the future, with the proper use of databases and applications, the law enforcement agency will have the upper hand in the fight against crime.
The future of intelligence is bright as long as we keep heading in the right direction. In order to be successful, the law enforcement agencies must work together both federal and state. There are many ways to open information and put it at the fingertips to anyone that has the need and right to know, but security must be kept paramount in order to avoid the information falling into the wrong hands. The intelligence analyst will only survive if the efforts are known by the agencies, and the days of the analysts working away in a dimly lit basement are over.