Managing Strategic Crime Enabling Threats at the Local Level
Today’s law enforcement professionals are faced with a vast array of threats, far different from the standard criminal threats of the last few decades. While traditional criminal threats persist, state and local law enforcement must contend with many threats that affect not only their jurisdiction but also span the regional, state and national levels. These threats come from transnational criminal organizations, cyber actors and domestic extremists to name a few. While these are tangible threats whose activities breed criminal activity at the regional and local levels, there are also intangible enabling threats that can perpetuate criminal activity within the jurisdiction of local departments.
Threats such as infectious diseases and civil unrest, have the potential to drive increased criminal activity at the local level and as such can be considered strategic enablers of cross jurisdictional criminal activity. In order to better understand these threats, state and local law enforcement must develop robust strategic intelligence programs and utilize predictive analysis to forecast the effects which these situations can have on their locality. While many local departments have connectivity to the DHS National Network of Fusion Centers and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces to receive information on traditional criminal threats, much planning information on the crime effects of natural disasters, public health emergencies and civil unrest is less of a priority focus until the actual situation presents itself. Key intelligence questions must be developed which can then be utilized to guide data collection and predictive analysis. Emergency management and criminal intelligence personnel need to work together and use past crime trends when modeling emergency events. This layered data can aid in best predicting where to focus police resources when these situations arise in the future.
We can be sure that in the wake of a catastrophic natural disaster, civil unrest or public health event, nefarious cyberactors, drug trafficking organizations and extremist groups could certainly take advantage of the chaos to move products, attack critical information technology networks or perpetuate further violence. During these types of events, the situation develops rapidly and law enforcement agencies must be agile and move resources as the situation dictates; meeting rapidly changing threats to life and property while continuing to be able to answer calls for service. Resiliency and intelligence planning go hand in hand. The establishment of a strategic intelligence unit, consisting of law enforcement and emergency management personnel, whose sole job is to examine the larger regional and interstate threat pictures is necessary to ensure strategic criminal threats and intangible enabling situations, are forecasted to the best extent possible, through an intelligence driven approach.