Throughout my 25-year career as a sworn law enforcement officer, and having worked for the past five years internationally with law enforcement agencies on their intelligence management initiatives, I have challenged police executives to understand the key elements of Intelligence-Led Policing (ILP) and to employ this approach systematically.

ILP combines information collection, analysis, and threat assessment – consistently applied to command level decision-making. ILP specifies that all police agencies should have some intelligence apparatus – a centralized entity where they collect information about the criminal elements in their particular jurisdictions and the problems facing citizens; where they analyze that information; and where they then identify the biggest threats to their environments.

Based on such analysis and threat assessment, commanding officers are then expected to devise a strategy to combat these problems. Heeding the analytical work is paramount, because the decision-making that takes place is backed up by actionable empirical data instead of being based on whim, incidental hearsay, or the latest news headlines.

Genuine ILP also insists that the intelligence unit remain separate from other police units. In the post 9/11 era, many police agencies in the U.S. dedicate a substantial amount of their resources to counterterrorism initiatives. Unfortunately, this sizable investment comes at the expense of properly staffing the other specialized units needed to determine other overt threats to their law enforcement environments (i.e. gangs, organized crime, drug trafficking).

Today, as I travel around North America, I still find police agencies collecting volumes of information and – shockingly – not conducting the required analysis to incorporate this information into their strategic responses. Even those agencies that are conducting some form of analysis are not developing “Strategic Plans” necessary to allocate scarce resources, or physically position resources, as required to meet the needs of their communities.

For most law enforcement agencies, just starting with the creation of a centralized intelligence entity will be a step in the right direction toward overcoming traditional barriers faced in our multi-level law enforcement environment. It is a significant step that law enforcement agencies can employ today to begin embracing the concepts of, and reaping the benefits of, the proven ILP approach.

  • Tja_campbell

    OK, so it's knowing what's going on, “on the ground”, “on the street” etc. it's the coppers' nose if you like. That knowledge of the neighborhood that allows a good police officer know who is likely to do what unto whom. The problem I fear, is that too much psycho-babble and new-speak, is being applied to very basic policing practice. Everything is neatly 'categorized' where effectively, no 'categories' exist. This also tends to be segued across into the normal everyday communication within a policing force. Too many academic studies of policing practices have been made and there's a standard of language that has developed which does not adequately express the common experiences of the police officer. There's a need for a return to plain polite language in communication (yes I know 'polite' is subjective) and this should be the standard of communication used in Fusion Centers. Too much basic reporting is done in 'High Flown' language that has no relevance to the facts of the report.

  • Jim Treacy

    Even at the risk of sounding like I'm talking “out both sides of my mouth”, I agree wholeheartedly with both Mr. Serrao and Mr. Campbell. I can do so comfortably because they both speak to the two sides of the ILP coin, which are: ILP can give a agencies a good strategic view of trends, activities and threats through competent analysis (Mr. Serrao). That said, if ILP ignores the tactical side, then it's a great way to win the public perception battle while losing the public reality war (Mr. Campbell). By this, I mean that all-too-often criminal intel is created to be pushed up the pipeline to management, so as to allow them to make resource allocation decisions–very worthwhile goal, and aimed at being more efficient and effective at protecting the public (across the threat spectrum–criminal and well as terrorist). But if resources aren't focused on providing analysis to the investigators already conducting the investigations (and, therefore, providing the very information by which the analysis is done in the first place), what occurs is allocation of additional resources based on the hope/belief that the added investigators will catch the bad actors, without assisting the investigators who may already be working on potential suspects. At the least, this is an inefficient use of resources, and potentially ineffective as well. I have, and am still presently, fighting this battle as a Police Adviser in Iraq. We'll see if they take it to heart better than we in ther US have…