It amazes me how “good theoretical concepts” in law enforcement and the “programs derived from them” consistently get diluted as they are put in place at the operational level. They usually look nothing like what was on the drawing board.
Why is this? One continually hears police executives talk about strategy and then spend their days and most of their time focusing on tactical activity and decisions. Usually the “strategy” goes out the window.
Police executives agree that strategic work like data mining and using advanced tools to predict crime are great things. But very few agencies are actually doing this operationally. I know improvement is possible. Law enforcement agencies can create more actionable intelligence from the stores of information they currently hold by applying advanced analytical techniques to that information.
Understanding that information transforms into intelligence is the key. The vetting process that takes place during this transformation usually means that action can and should be taken.
Understanding what action should be taken is also important. Is it opening a full-blown investigation, conducting surveillance, or interviewing a witness or suspect? Something can and should be done, but what is it, and who is going to do it?
There are a lot of moving parts here. A typical intelligence cycle model shows a lot of information coming from myriad sources. Some part of a given agency does something to that information, and hopefully an intelligence product goes out.
But out to where? Ideally, processes are in place to send intelligence to command for strategic decision-making – and out to operations for tactical decision-making. And to case support as well for enhanced situational awareness in the operational environment.
Getting intelligence to command is relatively easy with few moving parts. Whether command does anything with it, however, is another story. Getting intelligence to operations is tricky with a lot of moving parts. How does it get to operations in a meaningful time-frame and in a usable format?
As you strive to get timely, meaningful intelligence to your operators, the question to ask is, “Do I have the appropriate technology and processes I need, in the hands of the right people in the organization to get the job done?”