That was FBI Director Robert Mueller’s main message as he spoke today in San Diego at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference.
Americans, according to Mueller, look to law enforcement to carry out multiple missions—“to dismantle gangs openly wreaking havoc on the streets while also detecting terrorist cells operating in secret….to investigate white collar crimes on Wall Street while also nabbing bank robbers on Main Street.” And regardless of jurisdiction, he said that “the reality for the FBI and for each of your departments is that we must accomplish all of these missions.”
How we do that? By working cooperatively to gather, analyze, and share intelligence across geographic and agency lines. Mueller emphasized that we have to “determine what we know, what we don’t know, and find ways to fill the gap.”
He acknowledged that while countering terrorism is the FBI’s top priority, it might not be the primary mission of some state and local law enforcement agencies, “especially those of you whose cities have experienced a spike in violent crime.” So during his remarks he highlighted intelligence tools the FBI uses to combat terrorists and spies that we’re also using to help fight crime at the local level.
- Project PinPoint, a geospatial mapping technology that allows us to “combine and visually map crime data from a multitude of agencies—everything from shootings to sources, and from outstanding warrants to open investigations,” said Mueller. By merging the Bureau’s intelligence with that of our state and local partners, we’re better able to recognize crime problems and see patterns, as well as link crimes, develop additional tips and leads, and manage our resources.
- COMPSTAT (which stands for “comparative statistics”), a management tool pioneered by local law enforcement that uses computers, statistics, and mapping on a regular basis, generating intelligence to keep agencies abreast of current crimes and crime trends. The FBI has begun using it to help us chart key threats in different regions of the country—both national security-related and criminal. The intelligence gleaned from the process helps to “re-direct our resources, re-task our current sources, and recruit new ones,” explained Mueller.
- Joint task forces, including three specific ones with the Chicago Police Department focusing on gangs. Two take a more traditional approach, which is to gather intelligence over time that targets group leaders and dismantles gangs from the top down. But to make the streets of Chicago safer for residents right now, the third task force works on short-term cases to get those directly responsible for the violence off the streets. Gang cases worked by all three task forces are driven by intelligence. “Short-term investigations turn up intelligence that informs our long-term investigations,” said Mueller, “and vice versa.”
In the end, the successful use of intelligence depends heavily on these kinds of cooperative relationships. Added Mueller, “When we all bring some pieces of the puzzle to the table, we can put the picture together much faster.”