From the Division Chief: Why Your Department Needs a Law Enforcement Information Sharing Solution: “Prevent, Stop, Solve, and Share”
Kris A. Peterson, Special Agent, Division Chief, Law Enforcement Information Sharing Division, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and
Catherine A. Miller, Program Manager, NCR-LInX
Law enforcement data sharing is a powerful tool to protect lives, enhance safety, and solve crimes. It’s a lesson learned from the 9/11 attacks: sharing information among law enforcement agencies is essential for national security and, by extension, public safety within local communities.
Numerous success stories reveal that the benefits of sharing information among law enforcement professionals far outweigh potential dangers. Given the current criminal threats facing our communities, we must recognize and take advantage of reasonable opportunities to widen the thin blue line and multiply the impact from our forces in the most effective way possible. In the era of declining budgets, it’s even more important for the law enforcement community to continue to work smarter, not harder. Unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies within the United States have yet to participate in a regional or national law enforcement information sharing program.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is proud to administer the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LInX) and the Department of Defense (DoD) Law Enforcement Defense Data Exchange (D-DEx) on behalf of our law enforcement partner agencies. Developed in the early 2000s, LInX provides local and state law enforcement, along with DoD and other federal law enforcement agencies, the ability to share detailed information including incident reports, arrest records, mug shots, field interviews, and narratives to give context to situations. To save costs for agencies, LInX and D-DEx use government off-the-shelf software with no proprietary code. Additionally, LInX does not require agencies to write special reports to participate in the information sharing, but rather allows agencies to use their current reporting formats. It’s important to understand that law enforcement data already exist, and, although data would likely be shared if requested, LInX and D-DEx provide the awareness of available information to assist law enforcement professionals.
The LInX governance structure is a key to the success of the program. Each region maintains a governance board that develops the information sharing process and procedures for its members. Boards meet regularly throughout the year to discuss and make decisions on policy, rules, and expansion for their respective regions. Additionally, the boards’ chairs and co-chairs meet each year during the IACP Annual Conference and Exposition. While LInX is governed by its law enforcement agency constituents, it is complementary to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and interacts with other national law enforcement data sharing systems such as the FBI’s National Data Exchange (N-DEx) and those of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Together, LInX and D-DEx provide access to information from thousands of law enforcement sources.
The teamwork among all agencies has been phenomenal. Today, LInX and D-DEx represent more than 1,800 local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement entities, many near Department of Defense (DoD) installations and critical infrastructures (see Figure 1). In 2015 and 2016, LInX participants won four information sharing awards from N-DEx.
Figure 1: LInX/D-DEx/N-DEx Composite
LInX is used to solve crimes and find people every day. The following are important action items for agencies to consider:
- Join a law enforcement information sharing system; it’s a best practice. Whether regional or national, information sharing is crucial to protecting your community.
- Use your influence to ensure any regional information system is interoperable with other systems to maximize effectiveness.
- Share as much as you can; it will solve crimes and save lives.
- Encourage your personnel to embrace an information sharing mind-set. This effort is aided by filling out reports completely with items that are useful but might not be mandatory, such as occupation, next of kin, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- Get involved in information sharing by networking with colleagues through IACP and other law enforcement associations.
LInX, D-DEx, and N-DEx are mature systems and cost-effective ways for agencies to share information nationally and protect our communities. ♦
Examples of LInX and D-DEx Success Stories
»A California detective investigating a robbery discovered through LInX that a person about to be interviewed had a boyfriend who had been killed by the police in another jurisdiction and had declared her intent to kill a police officer. This is valuable information to know, especially for the next police officer to knock on her door.
»A Florida sheriff’s office, when asked for assistance from another jurisdiction, used LInX to help identify, locate, and thwart a person who planned to commit an active shooter attack at a National Guard Unit.
»In Washington State, police used LInX to identify, locate, and rescue a suicidal woman who called a hospital but refused to give her location.
»In Florida, LInX was used to solve a case of a kidnapped baby. The baby was found and returned within 11 hours of being taken.
»Police at the Pentagon were able to identify a suspicious person at their location using tattoo information from LInX. The suspicious person was a wanted, armed, and dangerous parole violator from a neighboring jurisdiction.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the Rio Grande LInX Program Receive FBI N-DEx Awards
On September 24, 2016, the FBI N-DEx Program Management Office hosted an awards ceremony where representatives of LInX and NCIS received awards for connectivity with and the successful use of the N-DEx System. NCIS received two FBI N-DEx Excellence in Information Sharing Awards, and the Rio Grande LInX Program received the FBI N-DEx Success Story of the Year Award—along with the Pueblo of Laguna Police Department and the Rocky Mountain Information Network.
NCIS Special Agent and Division Chief Kris Peterson stated, “NCIS, representing the D-DEx and LInX systems, is proud to be a strategic partner with the FBI and its N-DEx System in furtherance of law enforcement information sharing.”
Please cite as:
Kris A. Peterson and Catherine A. Miller, “Why Your Department Needs a Law Enforcement Information Sharing Solution: ‘Prevent, Stop, Solve, and Share,’” From the Division Chief, The Police Chief 84 (May 2017): 18–19.