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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tips on Better Law Enforcement Data Integration, By Stephen G. Serrao, Captain, New Jersey State Police (ret.)

Tips on Better Law Enforcement Data Integration

By Stephen G. Serrao, Captain, New Jersey State Police (ret.)

In the aftermath of 9/11, many law enforcement agencies sought to establish new data repositories to capture information, such as Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR, also known as Tips & Leads), Organized Crime Intelligence, Counter-terrorism Intelligence, and even Web-based and electronic document open-source data. There was a strong focus on collecting new and previously unknown information.

The last three years has seen a shift, however. Quite a few agencies – perhaps a result of the growth of Fusion Centers – are equally interested in setting up information management systems that can mine existing data repositories that they have been populating with records for many years.

A big reason for this shift may have to do with N-DEX (National Data Exchange), the FBI’s criminal justice information-sharing platform. N-DEX is a national system that enables law enforcement agencies to share non-intelligence information much more easily. Such information sharing aids in catching criminals as well as identifying trends and patterns to help prevent crimes and terrorist attacks.

Here are some of the best practices that agencies have been employing:

Use a single-source portal for examining different types of law enforcement data. Such a system empowers intelligence officers and staff with the capabilities of examining all the data in one place, using the same data mining tools without the need to log on and off different systems

Ensure that the system is N-DEX compliant

Avoid “home-grown” systems that often fail to capitalize on the wealth of thought leadership that has been generated in law enforcement circles

Leverage experienced practitioners and their technologies to ensure compliance with civil liberty, privacy and other statutes

Data integration is the beginning – not the end – of sound law enforcement practices.

Captain Stephen G. Serrao is a former New Jersey State Police Counterterrorism Bureau Chief, and now helps shape the direction of intelligence management software as Director of Product Management, Americas Region for Memex, Inc., a worldwide provider of intelligence management, data integration, search and analysis solutions (www.memex.com). Serrao can be reached at steve.serrao@memex.com.

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