Tag Archives: Calgang

Criminal Intelligence Management: Best Practices

Criminal intelligence analysts provide a key element of effective law enforcement, at both the tactical and strategic levels. Analysts study information related to suspects, trends, known criminals, and more. Through a process of gathering evaluating this information, trained intelligence analysts identify associations across various illegal activities over many locations.

ciaGovernment decisions and policies are heavily influenced by the insights provided by the criminal intelligence analyst, and police investigations use the intelligence in support of their missions. To that end, the main functions of criminal intelligence analysts include:

  • Supporting law enforcement activities and large-scale investigations
  • Providing an ongoing analysis of potential threats to public safety
  • Helping senior officials and policy makers to deal with ever-evolving challenges and uncertainty

There are both tactical and strategic elements to the role of the criminal intelligence analyst. These categories differ with respect to the minutia of details, and the ‘customer’ or end-user of the intelligence.

A. Tactical Criminal Intelligence

Criminal intelligence of a tactical nature attempts to achieve a specific outcome related to law enforcement. Perhaps a disruption of organized criminal groups, a search warrant, seizure of assets, or an arrest.

Tactical criminal intelligence includes:

  1. The identification of potential connections between people, places, and other entities of interest… and their potential involvement in unlawful activities;
  2. Recognizing and reporting important gaps in intelligence data;
  3. Designing and creating detailed dossiers of suspected or confirmed criminals.

strategy tacticsB. Strategic Criminal Intelligence

Strategic analysis of criminal intelligence is expected to continuously educate policy makers and senior officials about current and evolving criminal activities and patterns. The benefits of strategic analysis tend to be realized over a longer period of time than does tactical analysis.

Emerging criminal trends and activities sit at the core of strategic intelligence analysis. The intelligence can provide advanced warning of potential threats, and can provide law enforcement officials with the information required to prepare their agencies for emerging illegal actions.

Strategic criminal intelligence analysis includes the recognition and documentation of:

  • Evolving trends and patterns of illegal activities
  • Developing threats
  • Modus operandi
  • The possible effect of demographics, technologies, and evolving socio-economic factors on criminal activities

privacyD. Abuse and Misuse of Criminal Intelligence

The misuse and/or improper storage and unauthorized access to sensitive criminal intelligence data has always been a concern of civil liberty advocates, and has recently been brought to light again with stories regarding misuse of California’s CalGang database. Given the diverse and growing requirements of criminal intelligence management, certain best-practices and policies have evolved in order to help law enforcement agencies collect, store, and disseminate this important criminal intelligence without invading individual rights to privacy.

E. Best Practices for Criminal Intelligence Management

28-cfr-part-23Specifically, 28 CFR Part 23 is a federal regulation that provides guidance to law enforcement agencies on the standards for implementing and operating federally funded criminal intelligence systems that cross jurisdictions. The protection of individual constitutional rights and civil liberties sits at the core of 28 CFR Part 23. Every American, of course, is afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy. The guidelines outline specific methods to gather, store, disseminate, review, and purge criminal intelligence data.

Recommending the use of these guidelines is The National Criminal Intelligence Sharing Plan (NCISP). NCISP suggests that the regulations ensure that the operations of a criminal intelligence system protect the rights and privacy of individuals and organizations. Importantly, The NCISP suggests that criminal intelligence groups adhere to 28 CFR Part 23, irrespective of whether or not the system was implemented using federal funds and grants.

The criminal intelligence guidelines prescribed by 28 CFR Part 23 have been identified as the minimal policies and rules for sharing data across law enforcement agencies.

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28 CFR Part 23 outlines best practices for secure criminal intelligence management

The best practices prescribed within the regulation include specific guidelines related to:

  • Proper procedures for querying, reviewing, sharing, validating, and purging of criminal intelligence data.
  • Multi-jurisdictional memorandums and participation agreements (if applicable).
  • The gathering and submission of criminal intelligence information.
  • The definition of key criminal intelligence terminology, including ‘the right to know’ and ‘the need to know’.
  • The specific activities that may or may not be maintained within the criminal intelligence system.
  • Individual rights to access the criminal intelligence systems.
  • Security requirements including the auditing and inspection of data.

F. An Excellent Solution

IntelNexus_logo_v1IntelNexus™ from software developer Crime Tech Solutions is an affordable, yet powerful criminal intelligence management system that complies with the regulations and best practices set forth in 28 CFR Part 23. Whether or not an agency (or agencies) absolutely require compliance to 28 CFR Part 23, the software lays out a framework and enforces the principles that should be incorporated into the criminal intelligence database. IntelNexus offers the foundation for gathering, storing, maintaining, sharing, authenticating, and purging criminal intelligence while ensuring the privacy and civil rights afforded to us all.

The company also develops the popular Case Closed™ investigation case management software, and provides a suite of advanced crime analytics and link analysis software.

The CalGang Audit: Lessons Learned for Law Enforcement.

The following article is a continuation, of sorts, to our article ‘Intelligent Gang Intelligence’ on September 28…

CalGang is a California statewide database that law enforcement agencies use to store and disseminate information about gang activities and suspected gang members. The system has been in place for more than ten years, but has remained largely hidden from public scrutiny.

Shirley Weber, a California Assemblyperson has been working diligently to make CalGang more transparent, and her efforts have recently begun to pay off.

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California Assemblywoman Shirley Weber

Last year, Ms. Weber requested an audit of the CalGang system. The database contains activities, addresses, names, aliases and other information related to people that are either known gang members or affiliates. According to an article by The San Diego Union-Tribune, the database has approximately 150,000 entries.

California law enforcement agencies are not obligated to notify individuals whose names appear in the system, unless that person is a minor. The average length of time that an individual had existed in CalGang was approximately 5.5 years.

CalGang can be accessed only by law enforcement officials for legitimate reasons only, and only on a need-to-know basis.

The CalGang audit requested by Ms.Weber was released in August of this year, and reveals that the database may contain a significant number of errors including the presence of dozens of individuals who were less than one year old when first added to the system. The audit also showed that hundreds of individuals that ought to have been removed from the system were, in fact, not.

The findings led Governor Jerry Brown to sign a bill in September that requires law enforcement to notify individuals whose names are added to CalGang, unless it can be shown that providing that disclosure would impact an ongoing criminal investigation.

The audit has shed some light on how gang databases are operated in general, and offers an opportunity for agencies across the country to improve policies and processes. Specifically, 28 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 23 (28 CFR Part 23) is a U.S. Department of Justice regulation that governs “the operation of criminal intelligence systems that are operated by and principally for the benefit of state, local, tribal, or territorial law enforcement agencies.”

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CFR 28 Part 23

28 CFR Part 23 was designed as a regulation specific to multi-jurisdictional criminal intelligence (gang database) systems that receive federal grant funds. It is an excellent guide for intelligence agencies, as it attempts to fairly balance the intelligence needs of law enforcement with an individual’s rights to privacy.

Followed appropriately, 28 CFR Part 23 guidelines would minimize criticism of CalGang and other intelligence management systems.

“This report concluded that CalGang’s current oversight structure does not ensure that law enforcement agencies collect and maintain criminal intelligence in a manner that preserves individuals’ privacy rights,” wrote state auditor Elaine Howle in a letter to the governor and Legislature.

Of concern, the audit of CalGang also uncovered some instances where the data was used for purposes other than intended. Some agencies used the database for employment background screening, as an example.

The guidelines and regulations contained within 28 CFR Part 23 work to prevent these embarrassing and potentially unlawful scenarios by enforcing strict policies related to the input, storage, and dissemination of data.

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28 CFR Part 23 regulations enforce how gang and criminal intelligence data is gathered, stored, and disseminated.

Gang and criminal intelligence data is defined within 28 CFR Part 23 as “data which has been evaluated to determine that:

A) it is relevant to the identification of, and the criminal activity engaged in by, an individual who – or an organization which – is reasonably suspected of involvement in criminal activity, and

B) meets criminal intelligence system submission criteria

The ‘submission criteria’ is essentially the basis for something to be entered into the gang intelligence system. The criteria include the following:

  • A reasonable suspicion that an individual is relevant to the criminal activity
  • Prospective information to be entered is relevant to the criminal activity
  • Information does not include data related to political, religious, or social views unless that information related directly to the criminal activity that formed the basis for focus on the gang or group
  • Information was not obtained in violation of any federal, state, or local law or ordinance
  • Information establishes sufficient facts to give trained law enforcement officials a basis to believe that an individual or gang/organization is involved in a definable criminal activity

Data that is deemed to be irrelevant and unimportant should be purged from the system. This is true even if the data is discovered to be noncompliant before five years.

Perhaps the most important element of a gang database system complying with 28 CFR Part 23 is that no information whatsoever from the database should be disseminated without a legitimate law enforcement reason, such as criminal investigation cases and charges being filed against a suspect.

CalGang is an important and vital part of California law enforcement’s ability to deter and investigate gang related activities. A system this large is bound to contain some errors – both in data and judgement. That said, following and adhering to the guidelines of 28 CFR Part 23 may just prevent other agencies from undergoing such a painful public flogging.

About the Author

Tyler Wood is Operations Director of Austin, TX based Crime Tech Solutions (www.crimetechsolutions.com). The company develops and deploys low price / high performance software for law enforcement including Case Closed investigative case management software, sophisticated Sentinel Visualizer link analysis and data visualization software, and CrimeMap Pro advanced crime analytics. The company also develops the popular GangBuster gang database, and IntelNexus criminal intelligence software for 28 CFR Part 23 compliance.

Report: California ‘Gang Intelligence Database’ fails to ensure individual privacy

gangHere is another great reason why it is important for agencies to follow best practices in intelligence data management. The regulations behind DOJ 28 CFR Part 23 are meant to help agencies walk the line between effective intelligence gathering and the right to an individual’s privacy.

28 CFR Part 23 compliant intelligence management software is available and an inexpensive way for agencies to walk the line between effective criminal intelligence and individual privacy.

SFGate writer Vivian Ho’s article is at http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/Audit-Many-in-California-gang-database-listed-9137916.php

We think it is well-written and accurately describes a real problem faced by law enforcement agencies across the country.

Crime Tech Solutions  is a low price / high performance innovator in crime analytics and law enforcement crime-fighting software. The clear price/performance leader for crime fighting software, the company’s offerings include sophisticated Case Closed™ investigative case management and major case management, GangBuster™ gang intelligence software, powerful link analysis software, evidence managementmobile applications for law enforcement, comprehensive crime analytics with mapping and predictive policing, and 28 CFR Part 23 compliant criminal intelligence database management systems.