Guest Blogger: Chief John Batiste, General Chair, IACP Division of State and Provincial Police
Law enforcement leaders from 21 states met in Phoenix last week to discuss ways to improve and enhance information sharing in a continued effort to improve homeland and hometown security. This marked the second meeting of S&P’s Information and Intelligence Sharing Subcommittee, chaired by Colonel Steve McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The meeting took place in conjunction with the National Fusion Center Training Event. In addition to our state police superintendents, the subcommittee expanded to include police chiefs and other law enforcement executives. Chief Kent Barker, General Chair of the SACOP Division, Joseph LaPorte, Chair of the IACP Indian Country Section, and Chief Carlos Maldonado, Vice-Chair of the IACP Midsize Section, participated in the discussions. Vernon Keenan and Bob Wall, representing the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, also joined us. We were pleased to also have Sheriff Rich Stanek, president of the Major County Sheriffs Association, and Mike Sena, president of the National Fusion Center Association, at the table.
Commissioner Chris Lewis of the Ontario Provincial Police represented the views of Canadian law enforcement and Colonel Keith Squires attended as chair of the National Governors Association Homeland Security Advisors Council. Both are members of S&P.
Much of our discussion revolved around the importance of N-DEx, now recognized by the committee as the preferred platform for a nationally-scaled information exchange. FBI SSA Jeff Lindsey made a presentation on the latest system enhancements. SSA Lindsey made the point that, “each day that goes by where N-DEx is not utilized is a missed opportunity to solve or prevent a crime”. We agree and believe that N-DEx is a system that helps law enforcement “connect the dots.” We passed a resolution supporting N-DEx as the national data exchange system, which we will now forward to the IACP Resolutions Committee.
Colonel Rick Fuentes of the New Jersey State Police led the important discussion about the urgency of finding ways to increase the participation of smaller and rural agencies in the Information Sharing Environment. IACP Executive Director Bart Johnson and the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI) Program Manager, Tom O’Reilly, updated the group on the work of the Unified Message Task Team. Representatives from the FBI and DHS were on hand and discussed issues related to increasing collaboration and cooperation with SLT law enforcement.
This committee will continue its work, meeting next at the 119th IACP Annual Conference in San Diego. We recognize that a lot of progress has been made since September 11, 2001 to develop better processes and systems to share information. And, cooperation has greatly improved among state, local, tribal, and Federal partners. However, the group recognizes that we are not where we need to be more than 10 years after 9/11 and as law enforcement executives we have an obligation and responsibility to find ways to strengthen nationwide information sharing to protect our communities and our officers.