Investigations & Operations Support
Investigations & Operations Support
CIRG prepares for and responds to critical incidents, major investigations, and special events by providing expertise in behavioral and crime analysis, crisis management, and rapid deployment logistics. Quickly executing an effective response to critical incidents often depends on the coordinated effort of our crisis management assets as well as our law enforcement partners. Over the years, CIRG has worked to advance its capabilities by creating databases to enhance case management and investigative data collection. These systems, maintained within the units of the Investigative and Operations Support Section (IOSS), are available to law enforcement agencies through the Law Enforcement Online (LEO) network at www.leo.gov.
The National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) is one of CIRG’s major components. The center’s primary mission is to provide behavioral-based operational support to federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of unusual or repetitive violent crimes, communicated threats, terrorism, and other matters of interest to law enforcement and national security agencies.
The NCAVC consists of four units:
- Behavioral Analysis Unit 1 (counterterrorism/threat assessment);
- Behavioral Analysis Unit 2 (crimes against adults);
- Behavioral Analysis Unit 3 (crimes against children); and
- Behavioral Analysis Unit 4 (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program-ViCAP).
The special agents and other professionals on the NCAVC staff provide advice and support for a range of cases, including child abduction or mysterious disappearance of children; serial, spree, mass, and other murder; serial rape; extortion; threats; kidnapping; product tampering; arson and bombing; weapons of mass destruction; public corruption; cyber crime; and domestic and international terrorism. NCAVC services are provided during on-site case consultations, telephone conference calls, and consultations at the NCAVC office. Services are organized through a network of NCAVC coordinators located in every FBI field office in the United States. Law enforcement requests for NCAVC assistance are referred to the coordinator in the appropriate field office.
The mission of the Behavioral Analysis Units (BAU) is to provide operational support for complex and time-sensitive cases and other matters through the application of investigative case experience, education, specialized training, and research. Each unit has distinct responsibilities:
Behavioral Analysis Unit 1 (counterterrorism and threat assessment): Resources are focused on matters involving terrorism, threats, arson, bombings, stalking, cyber-related violations, and anticipated or active crisis situations.
Behavioral Analysis Unit 2 (crimes against adults): Resources are primarily focused on serial, spree, mass, and other murders; sexual assaults; kidnappings; missing person cases; and other violent crimes targeting adult victims. BAU 2 also provides assistance in potentially non-violent investigations, such as white-collar crime, public corruption, organized crime, and civil rights matters.
Behavioral Analysis Unit 3 (crimes against children): Resources are focused on crimes perpetrated against child victims, including abductions, mysterious disappearances of children, homicides, and sexual victimization.
Behavioral Analysis Unit 4 (ViCAP): Resources are focused on actual and attempted homicides—especially those that involve an abduction, are apparently random, motiveless, or sexually oriented, or are known or suspected to be part of a series; sexual assaults, especially those committed by a stranger, or those known or suspected to be part of a series; missing persons where the circumstances indicate a strong possibility of foul play; and unidentified human remains where the manner of death is unknown or suspected to be homicide. BAU-4/ViCAP also develops and maintains ViCAP Web, the national repository for these criteria cases.
Services provided by the behavioral analysis units include:
- Crime analysis;
- Profiles of unknown offenders;
- Linkage analysis;
- Investigative suggestions;
- Multiagency coordination;
- Threat assessment;
- Interview strategies;
- Media strategies;
- Search warrant affidavit assistance;
- Prosecution and trial strategies;
- Expert testimony;
- Critical incident analysis; and
- Geographic profiling (provided through an agreement with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives).
The Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) maintains the largest investigative repository of violent crime cases in the United States. It is a web-based data information center designed to collect and analyze information about homicides, sexual assaults, missing persons, and unidentified human remains. ViCAP Web users compare information in an attempt to identify similar cases and help move investigations forward.
ViCAP’s mission is to facilitate cooperation and coordination between law enforcement agencies and to provide support to those agencies in their efforts to apprehend and prosecute violent serial offenders, especially those who cross jurisdictional boundaries.
Since its creation by the Department of Justice in 1985, more than 4,000 law enforcement agencies have submitted cases to ViCAP, and there are currently over 84,000 cases in the database. More than 4,000 investigators and analysts are registered users of the system, and together they forge a powerful nationwide network of professionals collaborating on a daily basis.
Law enforcement agencies may obtain access to ViCAP’s database via a secure Internet link on the Law Enforcement Online (LEO) network by contacting ViCAP at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting www.leo.gov. Users can enter cases directly into ViCAP via the web and conduct queries on a real-time basis.
Highway Serial Killings (HSK) Initiative
ViCAP and the NCAVC’s support for state and local law enforcement agencies investigating violent crimes along the nation’s major highways resulted in the establishment of the Highway Serial Killings Initiative. Since 2006, this initiative has grown to include a nationwide matrix of more than 675 victims and potential suspects in excess of 300.
Crime analysts—specially trained to study the database with the goal of identifying serial offenders—have developed extensive timelines on potential highway serial killer suspects and have provided this information to law enforcement nationwide. The NCAVC requests that law enforcement agencies forward case information that meets any of the following criteria to BAU-4/ViCAP for possible inclusion into the HSK Initiative:
- Homicide victims whose remains were recovered along a highway, or at a location associated with a highway (rest stop, truck stop, gas station, and/or restaurant located along a major highway), to include truck drivers found murdered in their trucks;
- Missing persons whose last known location was along a highway or a location associated with a highway;
- Victims of sexual assault in which there is a connection to a highway or a location associated with a highway;
- Truck drivers or other individuals who have been investigated or arrested for the murder, kidnapping, or sexual assault of one or more victims along a highway or at a location associated with a highway
- ViCAP Fugitives and Missing Persons
- Fighting Violent Crime for 25 Years
- Highway Serial Killings Initiative
- ViCAP Brochure
NCAVC Research Program
In conjunction with other government and academic entities, NCAVC personnel conduct research into violent crime from a law enforcement perspective. Of primary interest to researchers are how offenders commit their crimes, how they attempt to avoid detection, and how they are identified, apprehended, and convicted. The research is designed to gain insight into criminal thought processes, motivations, and behaviors. These insights are then refined into innovative investigative techniques and applied to improve the effectiveness of law enforcement. Research results are shared with the law enforcement and academic communities through publications, presentations, and training.
In addition to traditional research projects, the NCAVC has planned and coordinated a series of multi-disciplinary conferences over the past several years. These conferences provide opportunities to look at complex law enforcement problems from multiple perspectives. Investigators from various agencies are able to interact with academic and scientific experts and to identify subject matter experts for future use in operational cases. Gaps in knowledge on a particular subject are identified, paving the way for future research efforts. The FBI has coordinated these events and acted as a clearinghouse for information, distilling large amounts of material and discussions into a usable, readable format.
The following publications related to the conferences are available in the Reports & Publications section of this site:
- The School Shooter: A Threat Assessment Perspective;
- Workplace Violence: Issues in Response; and
- Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators.
NCAVC Training Program
Each year, NCAVC personnel participate in training functions around the world, providing presentations to audiences that include law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, judges, corrections officers, health care professionals, military investigators, and members of the scientific and academic communities. The staff also conducts several annual training conferences in the U.S. are represented at major law enforcement, academic, and scientific conferences. In addition, NCAVC staff members are regular instructors at the FBI Academy’s National Academy.
The mission of the Crisis Management Unit (CMU) is to enhance the Bureau’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and assist in the successful resolution of critical incidents, major investigations, and special events. The fulfillment of this mission is accomplished by providing operational deployments, both domestically and internationally; by implementing an aggressive crisis management training program; and by conducting comprehensive research and development in crisis management and related fields.
The unit’s personnel assist each FBI field division in the design, set up, and operation of command posts or joint operations centers and assist in managing information resulting from an incident/investigation. CMU personnel are also members of the multi-agency Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST), which responds to overseas terrorist threats or acts. Operationally, CMU commands the Domestic Emergency Support Team (DEST), which responds to domestic WMD threats or incidents.
CMU also conducts a broad spectrum of crisis management training for the FBI and other federal, state, and local agencies and has programmatic oversight of the crisis management coordinators located in each of the 56 field divisions. CMU also conducts research into new crisis management procedures and information techniques.
Critical Information Technology—ORION
During critical incidents, special events, and major investigations, CIRG uses its Communication and Information Technology Unit (CITU) to assist in establishing a strategic communications infrastructure. One of our key tools is the Operational Response and Investigative Online Network, known as ORION. This crisis information management system built by FBI investigators and technology experts provides case management and related information processing capabilities to support federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies during a coordinated response to a variety of events and critical incidents. With ORION, we can capture data from thousands of e-mails and phone tips and convert raw information into actionable intelligence. Once only available on the Bureau’s internal network, ORION has expanded onto a secured Internet network to assist local law enforcement and interagency task forces. The network is available to all law enforcement agencies via a secure internet link on the LEO network, and information can be exchanged instantaneously. Since its inception in 2000, ORION has been used by FBI agents and law enforcement agencies to support over 70 investigations.
Special Event Management
The FBI defines a special event as a significant domestic or international event, occurrence, circumstance, contest, activity, or meeting which, by virtue of its profile and or status, represents an attractive target for terrorists or other individuals seeking recognition and a platform for voicing political demands through nefarious acts. The Special Events Management Unit (SEMU) is the FBI’s hub of counterterrorism and crisis management preparedness for major events such as the Super Bowl, the Olympic Games, and events designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as National Special Security Events (NSSEs). These include presidential inaugurations, presidential nominating conventions, and major international meetings. The SEMU coordinates with federal, state, local, and international law enforcement partners and private-sector officials to develop a comprehensive crisis management strategy for supporting security efforts for major events. As part of the planning process, personnel within the unit conduct site surveys, provide technical and operational guidance to field coordinators, participate in training exercises, and deploy assets to augment FBI field division resources.
In response to the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the FBI established rapid deployment teams to mobilize and quickly deploy to worldwide locations for investigations that fall within the Bureau’s jurisdiction, including crimes against U.S. citizens or interests.
Program management for these teams is placed under CIRG’s Rapid Deployment Logistics Unit (RDLU), which provides transportation and shipment of equipment and supplies to FBI teams responding to terrorism incidents, crisis situations, or major operations. The mission of RDLU is to coordinate all administrative and logistical matters for rapid deployment teams, including specialized training.
There are four rapid deployment teams, each consisting of approximately 150 special agents and professional staff. The teams are located in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C. and essentially bring all the capabilities of an FBI field office to any site near a critical incident.