- Michael D. Kirkpatrick
- Assistant Director in Charge
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and
- Washington DC
- November 13, 2003
Greetings, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee. I am Michael D. Kirkpatrick, Assistant Director in charge of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, otherwise known as CJIS. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and provide testimony about the National Crime Information Center.
The National Crime Information Center, more commonly known as NCIC, is a computerized database of documented criminal justice information available to virtually every law enforcement agency nationwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. NCIC became operational January 27, 1967, with the goal to assist law enforcement in apprehending fugitives and locating stolen property. This goal has been expanded over the last thirty-six years to include locating missing persons and further protecting law enforcement personnel and the public. NCIC has operated under a shared management concept between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and state and federal criminal justice users since its inception. The FBI provides a host-computer and telecommunication network to the control terminal agency in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Canada, as well as federal criminal justice agencies. Those jurisdictions, in turn, operate their own computer systems, providing NCIC access to virtually all local criminal justice agencies in the United States. Through this cooperative network, more than 94,000 law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies have direct on-line access to more than 52 million records.
The NCIC database currently consists of seventeen files. The seven property files contain records of stolen articles, boats, guns, license plates, parts, securities, and vehicles. The ten person files are the Convicted Person on Supervised Release, Convicted Sexual Offender Registry, Foreign Fugitive, Immigration Violator, Missing Person, Protection Order, Unidentified Person, U.S. Secret Service, Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization, and Wanted Person Files. The Interstate Identification Index, which contains automated criminal history record information, is also accessible through the NCIC network.
Now, I would like to outline some of the NCIC files and features that assist in immigration and border security. The Foreign Fugitive File, established July 1, 1987, contains information on persons wanted in connection with offenses committed outside the United States. There are two types of records in the Foreign Fugitive File: Canadian records and International Criminal Police Organization (otherwise known as INTERPOL) records. Canadian records contain information on persons wanted for violations of the criminal code of Canada based upon Canada-wide warrants. INTERPOL records contain information on persons wanted by authorities in other countries. The INTERPOL National Central Bureau of any country may issue a wanted flyer, known as a red notice, for a fugitive wanted within its respective country. The red notice requests the arrest of the fugitive with the intention that extradition will occur. Upon receipt of a red notice, the United States INTERPOL National Central Bureau reviews the information and enters an NCIC Foreign Fugitive File record if the following conditions are met: 1) the wanting country has an outstanding arrest warrant that charges a crime which would be a felony if committed in the United States; and 2) the wanting country is a signatory to an extradition treaty/convention with the United States. On October 29th, there were 1,543 records in the Foreign Fugitive File.
The Immigration Violator File was established on August 25th of this year. NCIC previously included a Deported Felon File; today, this is a category of records within the Immigration Violator File. The Immigration Violator File includes two additional categories of records; Absconders and NSEERS. The Deported Felon Category contains records for previously deported felons convicted and deported for drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, or serious violent crimes. The Absconder Category contains records for individuals with an outstanding administrative warrant of removal from the United States who have unlawfully remained in the United States. The NSEERS Category contains records for individuals whom Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has determined have violated the requirements of the National Security Entry Exit Registration System. An Immigration Violator File hit response includes guidance to the local law enforcement agency on handling the hit. The Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is the only agency authorized to enter and maintain the Immigration Violator File records. On October 29th, there were 125,868 records in the NCIC Immigration Violator File.
The FBI's CJIS Division implemented the NCIC Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File or "VGTOF" in December 1994. This file is designed to provide identifying information about violent criminal gang and terrorist organization members to protect the law enforcement community and the public. For our purposes today, I will limit my statement to the terrorist records within VGTOF. During security preparations for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, the FBI determined that it would be advisable to have individuals of FBI domestic or international terrorism investigative interest included in VGTOF. Traditionally, NCIC person records serve the needs of the criminal justice community and are supported by the judicial process. But with the creation of VGTOF, that philosophy was expanded to support law enforcement investigative and information needs related to terrorism. The terrorist records, in particular, support national security and homeland security. Based on the positive results during the Olympics, the FBI has continued to make this terrorism information available to the criminal justice community and has enhanced VGTOF to better support these records. Additionally, the FBI has coordinated with other entities to include their terrorist subject records in VGTOF with the goal of developing a centralized terrorist watch list. The newly created Terrorist Screening Center will use the NCIC VGTOF as part of its daily operations.
Since its inception in 1967, NCIC has been an effective tool for information sharing. The FBI's CJIS Division supports information sharing with local, state, tribal and federal entities. Since May 2002, the FBI has provided the U.S. Department of State with extracts of the NCIC Wanted Person, Immigration Violator, Foreign Fugitive Files, and VGTOF for inclusion in its Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS) as required by Section 403 of the USA PATRIOT Act. The Department of State uses the information to ascertain whether visa applicants have records indexed in NCIC which might preclude the issuance of a visa.
During NCIC's first year of operation, two million transactions were processed. In September 2003, NCIC processed an average of 3,775,678 transactions per day with an average response time of 0.12 seconds. On August 1, 2003, NCIC processed a record of 4,509,679 transactions. The FBI's CJIS Division continuously monitors the NCIC System and makes system upgrades to provide quality service. Based upon an estimated growth of 17% per year, we have projected that the current NCIC System can be annually upgraded to handle the user processing demands through fiscal year 2006.
The Department of Homeland Security components are undisputably NCIC's largest customer and have been using the system for three decades. NCIC is a valuable tool for immigration and border security as is clearly demonstrated by the fact that one third of NCIC System transactions -- over 1.5 million transactions a day -- are performed by the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. These transactions include inquiries on individuals and property entering and exiting the United States and encompass airline passenger manifests.
Over 17,000 law enforcement agencies query NCIC in the performance of their daily activities, to include routine patrols. The inclusion of the Department of Homeland Security component information in NCIC makes that information instantly available to over 700,000 law enforcement officers nationwide and significantly multiplies the enforcement resources brought to bear on immigration and border security issues.
In closing, I would like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to explain the use of NCIC for immigration and border security.