1st Responder as Intelligence Collector

If you want to stop the next attack and ‘move left of bang’ in the cycle of violence, major crime or terrorism,  you have to become a collector. Keep the promise, get involved in the intelligence enterprise and retain the trust of the communities you serve. Our common interest in security drives the need to provide intelligence training to all officers. Homeland Security starts with the conduct of policing in our local communities.  Excellence is found in habit and we must habituate and condition the focus and initiatives of intelligence collection and information gathering.

Chicago Police researcher John Bertetto  addresses this matter in his recent publication on Counter-Gang Strategy: Adapted COIN in Policing Criminal Street Gangs. Never more than now is there a need for enhanced intelligence-led policing, the transformation of community policing and adoption of focused deterrence strategies. While the “COIN strategy is undeniably a military strategy…the core competencies of working with and through the community, collecting evidence, and conducting investigations are fundamental law enforcement procedures”(Bertetto:84).

9/11 challenged the ‘Need to Know’ framework for collection efforts in the Intelligence Community.  There were classification problems and the problem of the mosaic effect. It transformed agencies to the ‘Need to Share’ framework under the Patriot Act of 2001 which acted to reduce institutional barriers for information exchange. The ‘Need to Share’ model differs from traditional collection efforts with its  focus on collaboration and information gaps with respect to legitimate targeting by law enforcement investigations. From 2008, the Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence (ODNI) has sought to make the Vision 2015 true with a developed information cloud and cross-agency participation inclusive of all law enforcement authorities – local, state, federal and tribal – in a coordinated push and pull of information (McConnell:2008).

Today’s targets are difficult to identify and locate, leave minimal or no evidence to investigate, operate transnationally across jurisdictional lines, and exploit technologies not always familiar to law enforcement in the commission of crime and terror. The 1st Responder as Intelligence Collector is charged to discover what is not known, the information gaps and spaces. This accord of rights and responsibility also renews the sworn responsibility to protect intelligence and the investigations which secure our respective communities and nations. The Snowden debacle only invigorates this responsibility and the need for a strengthened debate on the ethics of intelligence gathering.

Every officer is a collector. ITTA strongly encourages you to seek training, practice your trade and your part in stopping the violence through better targeting, analysis and focused deterrence.


About the Author: Aaron Cunningham is the acting President of the International Tactical Training Association


John A. Bertetto. ‘Counter-Gang Strategy: Adapted COIN in Policing Criminal Street Gangs.’ ILETSB Executive Forum, October 2013

Mike McConnell. Vision 2015: a Globally Networked and Integrated Intelligence Enterprise. Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence: 2008



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