Building on Clues

Methods to Help State and Local Law Enforcement Detect and Characterize Terrorist Activity (Final Report)

Published in: RTI International website

Posted on RAND.org on April 29, 2021

by Kevin J. Strom, John S. Hollywood, Mark Pope, Garth Weintraub, Crystal Daye, Don Gemeinhardt

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State and local law enforcement agencies are important partners in preventing terrorism, with responsibilities that include identifying and investigating local terrorist threats and protecting potential targets from attack. To meet these responsibilities, law enforcement must develop better ways to find and analyze pieces of information that could spotlight potential terrorist activity. However, to date, the federal government has provided limited guidance to law enforcement agencies on how to collect, analyze, and disseminate data that could be used for counterterrorism purposes. Such data could include information that is routinely collected by law enforcement, such as crime incident and suspicious activity data. While state and local law enforcement agencies are involved in fusion centers that seek to blend data from different sources, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has noted a general lack of true data integration going on in fusion centers, as well as a shortage in training for law enforcement analysts (Masse, O'Neil, & Rollins, 2007). Some guidelines have been presented on fusion center capabilities (DOJ and DHS Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative, 2005, 2008), information sharing (DOJ Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2003), and law enforcement analytic standards and data sources (International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts, 2004). Yet, there has been limited direction on specific methods, tools, and data sources that law enforcement agencies can use for counterterrorism purposes (Hoyt, 2008).

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