THE HONORABLE DEBORAH J. DANIELS
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS
LAW ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION-SHARING SYMPOSIUM:
"BREAKING BARRIERS: SHARING INFORMATION
IN A CHANGING WORLD"
TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2003
Good morning! I’m the last of those "talking heads" that Steve Casteel referred to yesterday, and I appreciate your indulgence. I’d like to thank DEA and Veridian for hosting this symposium to discuss a critical issue in today’s post-9/11 world - the need to end turf battles and break down other barriers to sharing criminal intelligence and other information among law enforcement at all levels of government – and to ensure that we are sharing appropriately with our private partners as well.
I know that the DEA has long recognized the need to share, creatively but confidentially, intelligence with state and local officials to better coordinate our nation’s war on drugs. It is fitting, then, that DEA would take the initiative to bring all of you together for this very important conference. The need for creative, secure, real-time information sharing is greater today than ever before; the stakes are higher; but fortunately, the solutions to these twin dilemmas are available in ways they never before have been.
We are not really here to congratulate ourselves. Mel Carraway, Chair of the Global initiative, made that clear yesterday: while we’ve improved, we are still not doing it very well. The good news is that everyone has embraced the concept; we have the tools available to us right now; we just have to break down the remaining barriers.
As the Attorney General said yesterday that an industrialist had told him, "Your system is perfectly designed to give you what you’re getting. If you don’t like what you’re getting, change your system."
Today, I’m pleased to have this opportunity to tell you about some of the things we at the Office of Justice Programs have been doing to help federal, state, and local law enforcement and emergency personnel better prepare for and respond to terrorism and other crimes.
For those of you not familiar with OJP, we’ve been working for more than 30 years to help state and local criminal justice agencies prevent crime and improve their criminal justice systems. Many of you are familiar with our "alphabet soup" of component agencies: BJA, OJJDP, OVC, NIJ, BJS, Weed and Seed, the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) – and, until its recent transfer to the Department of Homeland Security, ODP, the Office for Domestic Preparedness. Our primary mission is to assist the state and local law enforcement communities to accomplish their mission.
On the aftermath of the September 11th attack on America, we’ve intensified our efforts to help state and local law enforcement respond to the terrorist threat by working to break the barriers to effective intelligence sharing, communication, and technology integration.
The 9/11 terrorist attack on America served as a "wake-up call" for all of us at the federal level. It reminded us – all too graphically – that, to effectively ensure the security of our homeland, we’ve got to do a far better job of sharing terrorism intelligence and other information with state and local officials. This led not only to the sea change initiated by the Attorney General and Director Mueller of the FBI, moving our focus from one of re-creating the past to one of prevention, but also to at least the beginnings of sea change in the information sharing arena.
We fully recognize that state and local personnel are on the front lines of both the war on terrorism and the war on traditional crime. And we recognize that they need state-of-the-art intelligence, technology, and other tools to be able to respond quickly and effectively to any threat to our national security.
As I said, our primary mission at the Office of Justice Programs is to provide assistance – funding, training, technology development, and information dissemination – to help state and local law enforcement and other criminal justice personnel meet their homeland security and other, more traditional, public safety responsibilities. I know that sometimes those of you in state and local law enforcement feel that the federal government has forgotten your larger, overriding mission of keeping our citizens safe in their homes and neighborhoods, as well as protecting us all from terrorist attacks -- but that is not the case.
Over the past two years, we’ve worked with some of the people in this room to develop – or in some cases redesign – several initiatives to facilitate information-sharing among law enforcement agencies throughout the country, and to facilitate the development of technology to enable law enforcement personnel to communicate at the scene of a terrorist incident or other emergency.
Cannot overemphasize the importance of the concept of "intelligence-led policing" discussed at the IACP conference last fall and since that time. It is simply impossible for us to become proactive and preventive unless we police this way.
I found it striking that Mel Carraway, in his remarks, would have to say that there is a need to convince police agencies of the importance of analysts. Analysts are absolutely key to the success of policing. But they are only as good as the information to which they have access; their ability to fuse information from disparate data bases; and the speed with which that can be done. So how do we give our law enforcement officers the tools they need to be strategic, proactive, preventive?
One example is the Regional Information Sharing System – or RISS. For those of you not already familiar with RISS, it’s a multi-jurisdictional criminal intelligence system operated by and for state and local law enforcement agencies, with significant funding from OJP ever since its inception in 1974 with the creation of the first regional center. Its usefulness as the backbone for information sharing and data mining has grown, to the point where it now enjoys broad participation by federal agencies as well.
Traditionally, RISS has provided information sharing services in the form of criminal intelligence databases and an investigative lead-generating electronic bulletin board. Information is shared among the six regional RISS centers and about 7,000 participating law enforcement member agencies through a secure Internet connection.
After 9/11, we realized that we needed to significantly expand the capacity and capabilities of RISS to enable law enforcement agencies at all levels of government to better share anti-terrorism intelligence.
RISS has responded to this need by posting terrorism and homeland security information on its RISS/Leads bulletin board, focusing analytical services on domestic terrorism, and disseminating homeland security bulletins and other information.
RISS also provided substantial security support for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, including the performance of database checks and facilitating of information sharing for over 500 cases, and full-time assistance at the Olympic Intelligence Center and other sites throughout the Games.
Despite its successes, we determined that the system’s scope was still too limited. So, as you’ve heard, we’ve now linked RISS and LEO – the FBI’s Law Enforcement Online system – and are coordinating the operations of these two systems. Some of you were very helpful in achieving that goal.
One criticism of RISS is that it has traditionally been somewhat of a passive repository of information. LEO, on the other hand, does a good job of disseminating information, but its access to state and local law enforcement has been limited.
Through this new effort, we’ll get the best of both worlds by linking the two systems. The combined system will provide a secure connection that will allow sensitive, but unclassified, homeland security information to be distributed quickly to all RISS and LEO users. It also will provide users with a secure e-mail system.
As part of the RISS expansion, last summer we connected 15 High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area – or HIDTA – agencies to RISS. RISS also has added connections to a number of state agency networks: this means that a state can share its state-wide intelligence data base with RISS member agencies all over the country. We’re now working to connect all the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Task Forces to RISS.
As Mark Kusiak told you yesterday, in describing Metcalfe’s Law, the addition of each node, each data base, has the effect of increasing, exponentially, the value of the network.
Here’s one recent demonstration of the effectiveness of RISS in aiding an Anti-Terrorism Task Force investigation.
Investigators in one of the RISS centers searched their intelligence records database to locate a suspect wanted by the North Florida Joint Anti-Terrorism Task Force. The suspect was later deported to his native country of Jordan on multiple charges of identity fraud and other illegal activity.
Even before that, RISS was helping agents achieve success against suspected terrorists: shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the FBI office in Springfield, Missouri requested assistance from their regional RISS center (MOCIC) in checking the names of suspected terrorists through all of the various databases connected to RISS around the country. Information was found on three different suspects, in three different parts of the country, using information gleaned from three different databases. And the information had been entered in the databases from disparate areas of the country and from the intelligence gathered by various agencies; but a single search by one RISS center was sufficient to link quickly all this information. In fact, some of the critical information was gleaned from the California Bureau of Investigation database, which the State of California had just connected with RISS on the very day the information was accessed through the search. This just demonstrates the urgent need to connect all these databases.
In January, we launched a pilot project to further expand the utility of RISS in counterterrorism efforts. ATIX – the RISS Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange – is currently being tested in six states. This new system allows state and local officials who are responsible for homeland security and disaster preparedness to communicate and exchange homeland security, disaster, and terrorism alert information in a secure environment.
Not only law enforcement, but also all those, including private partners, who must have a role in identifying threats to our safety, will be partners in this effort. No one has more clearly articulated the need for the partnership than Bob Bryden of FedEx, who pointed out yesterday morning that corporate America owns 85% of the critical infrastructure in the country – and also explained the tremendous role that companies like FedEx can play in passing along information about publicly-observed aberrant behavior.
But back to RISS-ATIX: what will this mean to law enforcement and terrorism prevention? Think about this hypothetical:
Several recent chemical thefts have prompted a RISS-ATIX participant from the chemistry industry to post a message on the RISS-ATIX bulletin board.
A law enforcement officer reads the posted message on the board. From daily intelligence bulletins he’s receiving through the RISS network, the officer recognizes that the stolen chemical is a potential hazard for poisoning the water supply. The officer posts a reply to the message explaining the potential hazard. Using the secure e-mail capability offered through RISS-ATIX, officials from the chemical industry alert public and private water utility executives of the potential hazards associated with the chemical; warning signs of contamination; and available treatments. Using the contact capability of RISS-ATIX, officials from emergency management, health, law enforcement and other government agencies are notified of the critical information and can be prepared to act immediately.
RISS serves as the communications backbone not only for ATIX, but also for another new initiative known as MATRIX – the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange. MATRIX provides the capability – in real time – to store, analyze, and exchange sensitive terrorism-related and other criminal activity information among agencies within a state, among states, and between state and federal agencies.
The system will allow users secure access to criminal history, driver’s license, vehicle registration, and a host of other information, much of which is available in commercial databases, but which law enforcement does not usually have the capacity to access. More importantly, the system finds patterns in these various databases to limit a potentially huge field of suspects in a crime to just a few in a matter of seconds; or to identify people whose actions fit the pattern of terrorism identified by investigators.
Here’s an example: a major task force in New England, investigating a series of murders, ran queries on the MATRIX factual data analysis application (FCIC+) which found the initial suspect in Florida and was able to rule him out immediately. Then, additional suspects with the same name were identified through further MATRIX searches, along with family members and address information. This new information resulted in warrants being served the next morning and a suspect being apprehended.
In another case, the task force received a lead regarding an individual who was believed to be an associate of one of the September 11th hijackers. An initial background query resulted in a real-time "link analysis": those of you who know what this is know that it used to take investigators months of work to painstakingly piece together the family members, associations, former addresses, communications, and so on relating to a suspect.
This time, in seconds, the information identified an apartment leased by the wife of the target’s brother, which led investigators directly to their target. In today’s terrorist threat environment, real time work like this is critical.
Currently, 13 federal agencies and 20 law enforcement agencies are participating in MATRIX, which is being pilot-tested in 13 states. Once we finish testing, we hope to expand the system nationwide.
Our goal for these efforts is to ensure that law enforcement officials at all levels of government are sharing intelligence, communicating with each other, and working together in partnership with the private sector, as appropriate, to stop terrorists before they strike. To help in reaching that goal, OJP supports – and, in turn, is supported by – the Global Justice Information Network Advisory Committee.
It appeared, from yesterday’s meager show of hands when Mel Carraway asked the question, that very few of you are familiar with Global. Let me just tell you that Mel’s passion on this subject is well founded. This unprecedented collaboration consists of representatives from 31 federal and state agencies, as well as national and international associations from across the criminal justice spectrum. Global Advisory Committee members work together to overcome the barriers to justice information sharing across agencies, disciplines, and all levels of government, while preserving legitimate privacy and security concerns.
Their mission is to examine issues involved in justice information systems integration, coordinate efforts, and provide guidance on how the Department of Justice can best assist state and local jurisdictions in effectively sharing criminal intelligence. But Mel was exactly right: this is not a "federal" effort – it’s a national effort, with all of us as equal partners.
I’d like to thank the Global Committee members for their outstanding efforts to promote intelligence-led policing in this country and to guide law enforcement agencies in appropriately gathering, using, and sharing information to prevent criminal and terrorist activities.
Global’s Intelligence Working Group is developing a Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan that will help map the future of law enforcement information-sharing efforts in this country. I’m looking forward to seeing the Working Group’s interim report soon, and a final report sometime this fall.
Three additional Global Committee Working Groups are addressing other issues related to law enforcement information sharing. The Security Working Group is developing guidelines for securely sharing justice and law enforcement information. The Privacy and Information Quality Working Group, working with the National Criminal Justice Association, produced privacy guidelines for justice information systems.
And – in one of the most critical advances – the Infrastructure and Standards Working Group developed a tool for application development that – when implemented using the proper standards – acts as a universal translator among information systems and allows systems to share data without compromising the integrity of that data.
The Justice XML – for "Extensible Markup Language" – Data Reference Model, which Mark Kusiak mentioned yesterday, is a good example of how new technology combined with collaboration can remove barriers to information sharing among law enforcement agencies which use otherwise incompatible systems. As Mark said, the XML standard allows a search for data across different systems by using "tags", to pull out and categorize various types of information, creating in essence a universal language – making normally incompatible data systems interoperable.
This leads to a related critical issue I’d like to address this morning, and that is communications interoperability. As you know all too well, when multiple public safety agencies respond to an incident, they’re often unable to communicate effectively with each other – or sometimes even with their own agencies – because their radio equipment is incompatible.
One tragic example is the September 11th terrorist attack in New York City. While police and firefighters rushed up the stairs of the burning World Trade Center buildings, incident commanders outside could hear helicopter radio reports that the towers were dangerously close to collapse.
They were able to warn their police officers via radio to vacate the buildings immediately. As a result, all but 60 officers escaped with their lives. Tragically, hundreds of New York firefighters couldn’t hear that warning because they were using a different radio communications system. Three hundred and forty-three firefighters died in the World Trade Center terrorist attack that terrible day.
First responders experienced similar problems at the Littleton, Colorado school shooting and the Oklahoma City bombing. Precious moments were lost in aiding survivors because the responding agencies’ radios were incompatible. Emergency personnel had to use runners to communicate with each other.
Our AGILE – or Advanced Generation of Interoperability for Law Enforcement – initiative is finding solutions to this problem. The Office of Justice Programs, through its National Institute of Justice, is working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and other partners to develop standards for voice, data, image, and video communication systems that can be adopted by industry. These solutions will allow multiple parties to exchange information on the spot, whether it’s among fixed facilities, mobile platforms, or even personal devices.
One of the first products evaluated under AGILE was ACU-1000, an audio gateway technology system that ties incompatible radio systems together. The system is currently being tested here in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
An ACU-1000 Gateway Subsystem installed at the Alexandria, Virginia, Police Department allows the radio channels of surrounding area agencies to be linked together over-the-air through their existing radios. The system also provides a telephone interface to allow phone calls to be connected to the radios. And two-way connections can be made between any combination of radios and telephone.
The system can also simultaneously connect radios and telephones to provide a conference call capability for use during multi-jurisdictional incidents.
The value of the ACU-1000 technology was demonstrated last fall during the Washington, DC area sniper shootings. The system provided critical communications interoperability among the myriad federal, state, and local agencies participating in the sniper investigation.
Despite innovations such as AGILE, one considerable barrier to interoperability and information-sharing is the cost involved in obtaining, installing, operating, and maintaining the technology involved in these efforts. Particularly in today’s economic climate, most jurisdictions are looking for ways to save money, not spend it.
We are doing everything we can to help state and local jurisdictions bear this burden. First, I am pleased to report that the federal government recognizes and is acting on the need to marry these tremendous technological advances with the funding that is available from different agencies for this purpose.
SAFECOM is a government-wide, interagency coordinating office, now residing in the Department of Homeland Security, for public safety interoperability. All the agencies who have funding available for interoperability – FEMA, the Department of Justice’s COPS Office, our Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Office for Domestic Preparedness – are members; and the technical advisor to this committee is our own AGILE.
AGILE serves as the research and development leader for public safety interoperable communications; and SAFECOM, using AGILE as its technical consultant, then is able to infuse into the grant process this critically important information.
The bottom line for state and local law enforcement is that the government will not only provide funds, but also insure that the agencies are able to spend those funds in the most cost-effective manner, and achieve their interoperability objectives.
Of course, there is still more to do: We need to push information out to officers, not just supply it in a passive vehicle; and, in the future, I believe that all officers will need to learn how to analyze crime data.
As Asa Hutchinson told you yesterday, information sharing is the future. I would add that we must maintain our sense of urgency about this mission -- because effective information sharing must be the future, and the future must happen now. We have the tools; we have the desire; and it is critical to our nation’s security that we begin firing on all cylinders, immediately.
I want to thank you for contributing your time, talent and personal commitment to advancing information sharing in our nation, and for the work you are doing through this symposium to meet this critical national priority. We look forward to working with you on these issues. Thank you very much.