Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
Department of Justice
Global Advisory Committee Meeting
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Thank you so much, Bob [Boehmer]. It's great to be here, and I want to thank you and Carl [Wicklund] for inviting me and for your leadership of the Global Advisory Committee.
Before I begin, I know there are a couple of Global members who are new and who I haven't yet had a chance to meet. I want to take just a moment to welcome them: Anne Tompkins - the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina - and Kevin Bowling from the National Association of Court Management. Anne and Kevin, it's great to have you on board - and we look forward to having you at the table here.
The last time I was with you - back in October - we celebrated the tenth anniversary of OJP's partnership with Global, and I was really so proud then to reflect on the great progress we've made over the last decade. I think it's no exaggeration to say that our nation's capacity for sharing criminal justice information is truly light years ahead of where it was 10 years ago. And I'm excited to think - looking ahead - what we can accomplish together in the coming years. In fact, I'm amazed at the progress we've made in just the last six months.
Let me start with the great work you've done in the privacy arena. For example, the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council recently produced a training video that educates line officers and other public safety professionals on the importance of privacy and civil liberties protections. We're rolling this out to law enforcement agencies across the country and to date, more than 35,000 officers - yes, 35,000! - have seen it. (I think that's pretty incredible!)
Speaking of fusion centers, we held the National Fusion Center Conference in Denver a few weeks ago - and I know it was a huge success. And I really want to commend CICC Chairman Ron Brooks and all the other Global members who made that conference possible - as well as Jim, Patrick, and the great BJA staff for putting that together. That conference drew nearly 900 attendees, and have to tell you, it seems to get better every year.
Global's work is also responsible for the tremendous progress we've made under our Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative - NSI. The "NSI framework" that Global helped develop is advancing - I think - an improved policing model that recognizes terrorist precursor behaviors within the context of an "all crimes" approach. And NSI is already proving to be one of the nation's leading prevention programs in our fight against terrorism. I firmly believe that, and - far more important - the Attorney General believes that.
Tom O'Reilly, as you know, is our point person in BJA on this effort, and although he's not with us today, I want to thank him so much for his outstanding leadership - and I want to thank the entire NSI staff for supporting our joint NSI Office. As you know, a program management office has been created and is being operated out of BJA. The NSI team is working feverishly to bring all 50 states and 22 urban areas into this effort. Right now, 29 jurisdictions - including 17 states - are either fully operational or have initial operational capability.
Many states already have Suspicious Activity Reporting privacy policies and the necessary technology in place - and to date, we've trained more than 1,300 analysts. This is significant progress, and I'm proud that BJA has been doing this in close partnership with DHS, the FBI, and our state, local, and tribal colleagues.
NSI has also expanded its reach to include critical infrastructure. We've partnered with Amtrak and with regional rail systems along the northeast corridor to do this.
And I was very encouraged to hear that Global was asked by Kshemendra Paul - the Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment - to provide input on the refresh of the National Strategy for Information Sharing. I know you provided a number of actionable recommendations to the Attorney General on this. I was really excited to see this level of involvement by Global, and I hope to see more of it in the future.
These are all significant milestones that we've reached just over the course of the last few months - and that says an enormous amount, I think, about the groundwork you've laid and the momentum frankly that you've generated.
I'd like to see us build on that momentum. So I want to issue a challenge to you, to the Global Advisory Committee. I want to challenge you to identify where we need to be in the next three to five years, and what we need to do to get there.
Should we focus on improving technology to promote better information sharing? Should we be focusing on privacy, and finding better ways to protect the information being shared? Or are there other areas that we should be focusing our time and attention on? I encourage you, as GAC members, to take an active role in identifying and addressing the issues we're facing - and to be a little outspoken about it!
When I joined the Deputy Attorney General a few weeks ago at the state and provincial police and mid-size cities police chiefs meeting, I told the group that I consider seamless information sharing and the integration of terrorism and criminal intelligence two of the defining issues of 21st-century policing. Your work here has been foundational - and it's clearly going to continue to be critical in our efforts to protect Americans from threats - both here and abroad.
So it's great to be here with you, and I look forward to continuing our partnership - and to even greater achievements for Global in the months and years ahead.
Thank you so much for your time - and for all that you do.
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