THE HONORABLE DEBORAH J. DANIELS
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
OFFICE OF JUSTICE PROGRAMS
ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE
SECOND GENERAL ASSEMBLY
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2003
I’m honored to have the opportunity to participate in your national conference. As most of you know, for many years, the IACP and the Office of Justice Programs have worked together to ensure that our nation’s law enforcement officers have the resources they need to efficiently and effectively protect our communities from crime.
Throughout our partnership, IACP has been on the cutting edge in developing knowledge on the critical issues confronting law enforcement. For example, your Summit on DNA Evidence last April contributed significantly to this Administration’s efforts to expand the use of DNA evidence.
The Bush Administration believes that DNA has tremendous potential for solving crimes, identifying criminal offenders, and protecting the innocent. If the Congress authorizes 2004 funding for the President’s DNA initiative, we’ll spend $232 million next year, as part of a $1 billion, 5-year effort to help law enforcement and other criminal justice practitioners more effectively collect, use, and analyze DNA evidence to solve cases. And no one has been a more forceful advocate of this initiative than the Attorney General himself – we are most grateful to you, General.
With these funds, we’ll help improve the capacity of crime labs throughout the country to analyze DNA samples to get accurate results back to investigators quickly. We’ll also provide funds to help labs clear up the tremendous backlog of DNA samples – many of them from serious, violent offenses – that are awaiting analysis.
We’ll improve the national DNA data base, housed at the FBI, so Director Mueller’s top-notch lab can turn around matches for you in minutes, rather than hours or days. And we’ll continue our support for research to develop faster and less expensive methods of DNA testing. This, too, will help your local labs keep up with their workload, but will also help your officers on the street. For example, we’re working to develop a hand-held device that could test a suspect’s DNA while police are interviewing him. Ultimately, it’s possible that you could obtain DNA matches directly from the field.
Sarah Hart, Director of our National Institute of Justice, will more fully discuss the President’s DNA initiative at this afternoon’s plenary session. But there’s one other critical issue I want to mention, and that’s the need for legislation requiring that DNA samples be taken from all felony offenders.
In states that have this requirement, we’ve seen how thousands of crimes have been solved by matching samples in convicted offender databases to DNA from crime scene evidence. As a result, more and more states are passing such legislation.
If your state doesn’t currently require such testing, I encourage you to work with your state legislators to pass legislation to expand your state’s DNA sample collection to include all convicted felons. We need to get all states on board to solve more crimes and get dangerous predators off our streets.
I also want to commend the IACP for your outstanding work in developing the National Intelligence Sharing Plan. In the terrible days following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the IACP was quick to recognize the need for improved intelligence and information sharing among law enforcement at all levels of government to prevent terrorism and other crime.
In response to a recommendation from the IACP Criminal Intelligence Sharing Summit that was held early last year, the Office of Justice Programs established the Global Intelligence Working Group to help promote and coordinate the efficient sharing of criminal intelligence among criminal justice agencies throughout the United States. The Working Group is a subcommittee of the Global Justice Information Sharing Advisory Committee, which advises the Attorney General in this important area.
Global represents the IACP and more than 30 other organizations spanning the criminal justice spectrum – from law enforcement, to the judiciary, to corrections. This influential group works to address the many policy, privacy, connectivity, and jurisdictional issues that hamper effective justice information sharing.
I’ve worked closely with Global, and have been very impressed with the progress this group has made in only a short time. The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan, developed by Global in partnership with the IACP, is the first of its kind in this country -- and promises to bring us closer to achieving the goal, expressed at your 2002 Summit, of “intelligence-led policing.” It provides a wealth of information that every law enforcement agency in this country can use to improve the development and sharing of criminal intelligence. And it serves as a “roadmap” for our national criminal intelligence sharing initiatives.
I was pleased to recommend to the Attorney General his endorsement of this landmark document. And we’re already moving to implement part of the National Plan, by initiating an effort to coordinate training curricula and standards for intelligence analysts serving law enforcement agencies. These analysts are essential if law enforcement professionals are going to be able to use criminal intelligence effectively to guide their decision-making.
OJP has launched a number of other initiatives to support the goals of the National Intelligence Sharing Plan. As many of you probably know, we’ve been working to expand the capabilities of RISS – the Regional Information Sharing System – by linking it with the FBI’s Law Enforcement Online – or LEO – system. The combined system provides a secure connection that allows sensitive, but unclassified, homeland security information to be distributed quickly to all RISS and LEO users.
RISS also serves as the communications backbone for MATRIX – the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, which we are piloting with funds from OJP. 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, court records, and a host of other information, much of which is available in public or commercial databases, but which law enforcement does not usually have the capacity to access quickly or easily. More importantly, the system finds patterns in these various databases – for example, to identify people whose actions fit the pattern of terrorism identified by investigators. Critical linkages among databases can be made in seconds, rather than months – in both counterterrorism and more traditional law enforcement investigations. MATRIX is being pilot-tested in 13 states, and we hope to expand the system nationwide once we finish testing.
We’re also working to address the critical issue of 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. We know that this is nothing short of a life or death matter for your officers in a time of crisis.
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 find solutions to this problem by developing standards for voice, data, image, and video communication systems. These solutions will allow multiple parties, using different systems, to exchange information on the spot.
We’re also working to promote better wireless communications for the entire public safety community and to improve law enforcement access to the radio spectrum. For example, we’re working to reduce interference in public safety wireless communications caused by civilian cell phones, a problem that’s becoming increasingly critical as the number of cell phones continues to grow.
We’re coordinating these activities through, and providing scientific support for, SAFECOM, the federal government’s interagency effort that is working to solve the interoperability problem and ensure that law enforcement and other public safety officials can effectively respond to any critical incident. And we welcome your suggestions for other ways in which we can help you and your agencies work more efficiently, effectively, and safely.
I want to thank the IACP for its leadership in addressing the most critical public safety issues facing police today. We at the Office of Justice Programs look forward to continuing our partnership with you to ensure the effectiveness of law enforcement in this country and the safety of our communities. Thank you very much for the significant honor of addressing you today.