Intelligence Protecting America

November 17, 2008

Direc6tor Mueller discusses the importance of intelligence sharing across law enforcement offices to dismantle gangs and improve domestic safety at the International Association of Police Chiefs conference. He is joined in the discussion by Special Agent Rice of the Chicago Field Office.

Audio Transcript

Mr. Schiff: Hello I’m Neal Schiff, and welcome to Inside the FBI, a weekly podcast about news, cases and operations. Today we’re talking about your safety and how local, state, and federal police agencies work together making our streets and cities safer for you.

Director Mueller: “Knowing your domain means understanding every inch of the given community—its geography, its populations, its economy, and most particularly its vulnerabilities.”

Mr. Schiff: FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke to the International Association of Police Chiefs conference in San Diego. The Director talked about intelligence sharing and the many ways that various law enforcement offices are linked.

Director Mueller: “Today Americans look to law enforcement to dismantle gangs who are openly wreaking havoc on our streets while also detecting terrorist cells operating in secret. They need us, they want us to investigate white-collar crimes on Wall Street, such as the mortgage fraud issues, while also investigating and nabbing bank robbers on Main Street.

Mr. Schiff: The FBI Director said working together and operating effectively is best done by using intelligence that is collected.

Director Mueller: “And that is determining what we know; as important determining what we don’t know; and finding ways to fill those gaps. We have come to learn that intelligence lets us target our finite resources where they will make the most difference to the safety of each of our communities.”

Mr. Schiff: Director Mueller told the police chiefs about the new tools the FBI has to fight terrorism and seek out spies while working with local and state police officers battling crime in your communities.

Director Mueller: “Mark Twain once said, and I quote, ‘It is wiser to find out than to suppose.’ And his words ring true in an age when crime and terrorism converge; when local gangs and international drug cartels cooperate; and when foreign spies and child predators haunt the Internet. But given the vast array of threats we cannot afford to suppose. If we are to protect our communities, we must find out exactly what we’re up against.

Mr. Schiff: Director Mueller said it’s important for law enforcement officers and FBI agents to know their communities.

Director Mueller: “In the FBI we have over the last several years developed a mantra and it is this: know your domain. Knowing your domain means understanding every inch of the given community, its geography, its populations, its economy, and most particularly its vulnerabilities.”

Mr. Schiff: Director Mueller said new tools and initiatives are now in the hands of FBI special agents and intelligence analysts at the FBI and other agencies.

Director Mueller: “GeoSpacial mapping technology. Many of your departments may be using some form of it and have already seen its benefits. The version we are currently using in a number of cities is called Project PinPoint. It allows us to combine and visually map crime data from a multitude of agencies—data from shootings to sources and from outstanding warrants to open investigations, both federal as well as local.”

Mr. Schiff: The Director said to the police chiefs that combining and analyzing this information provides so much more intelligence than in the past.

Director Mueller: “And it is that when we combine the FBI’s data with your data that we can view intelligence in a new light. It is one thing to suppose there might be a connection between firearms seizures and narcotics arrests and shootings in a certain quadrant of your city. It is another thing to find out by seeing the connections on a computer screen.”

Mr. Schiff: The Director said that visual mapping shows the domain and where crimes have occurred and allows for police, and the FBI, to allocate resources.

Director Mueller: “On the tactical level seeing crime problems and patterns on a map points us to doors we can knock on and persons who can give us information. And simply put, it gives us actionable intelligence.”

Mr. Schiff: Success comes in working together, and Director Mueller has nothing but high praise for the tremendous efforts of law enforcement all around the United States.

Director Mueller: “We recognize, as was pointed out by the [police] chief earlier, that state and local police would be the first ones to identify an MS-13 presence; state and local police will see the red flags; state and local police are the eyes and ears; state and local police were responsible for the apprehension of Eric Rudolph and Timothy McVeigh. And together, we have to work to identify those red flags and anticipate the threats in our communities. This is how intelligence should work. When we all bring some of the pieces of the puzzle to the table we can put the picture together much faster.”

Mr. Schiff: FBI Director Mueller, talking about the gang problem, referenced the efforts in Chicago where several task forces hunt down gangs and gang members every day. Special Agent Ross Rice in Chicago says gangs are not unfamiliar in the Midwest…

Mr. Rice: “The gang problem in Chicago is quite extensive. We have a number of major street gangs that are operating in and around the city. They’ve spread their sphere of influence out into the suburban areas and even adjoining states— Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa. Gangs are not new, though, to Chicago. We’ve had street gangs, organized crime gangs going back over a hundred years.”

Mr. Schiff: Rice says local police and the FBI join forces in the task forces.

Mr. Rice: “The Chicago FBI has established several permanent task forces to investigate street gangs. And we do this in partnership with Chicago Police and other local law enforcement agencies. At present we have three such task forces in operation here in Chicago: one targeting Hispanic street gangs; one targeting African-American street gangs, both in the city; and we have a third task force which is targeting all street gangs in the far western suburbs, primarily in and around the city of Aurora.”

Mr. Schiff: According to Rice, the gangs are in small towns as well as larger cities and counties.

Mr. Rice: “Well the three task forces are headed by the FBI; two are housed here in our building and the third is out in our Lyle office. There are a number of other agencies, though, involved in our task forces: the Chicago Police Department, their Gangs Crime Unit; Aurora Police Department; King County Sheriff’s Office, and a number other smaller suburban departments who are also affected directly by the spread of gangs in the metropolitan area.”

Mr. Schiff: Gangs used to protect what they called their “turf.” Rice says it’s a lot more violent out there and for another reason.

Mr. Rice: “The gangs here in Chicago all have one common denominator, and that’s drugs. They are in business to sell drugs, to distribute drugs, and most of the violence that we see relates to that drug trafficking. Whether it’s controlling a street corner or specific geographical areas as their turf, or whether it’s disputes over drug deals gone bad, it’s hard to say, but without question the vast majority of the killings and the street violence that we see here in the metropolitan area, comes directly from the street gangs, and that is in direct relationship to drug trafficking.”

Mr. Schiff: Back at the police chiefs’ conference, FBI Director Mueller said the information is there and with law enforcement linked we can find it.

Director Mueller: “The intelligence we need is everywhere around us. It is in our case files; in our streets; your files just beneath our radars. But we cannot, each individually, each individual department/agency, go it alone. The partners we need are everywhere around us, too. They’re back at our Headquarters; they’re out in our communities; they are with our counterparts overseas all over the world, and those partnerships are right here in this room.”

Mr. Schiff: There is much more to learn about the FBI and how special agents and analysts coordinate with local, state, and other federal law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism and crimes. Head for the Internet at That concludes our show. Thanks for listening. I’m Neal Schiff of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.

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