June 13, 2016
In the digital age, information has become the new currency. The achievement of goals is now more dependent on good data and shared knowledge than anything else, including the dollar, pound, or yen. Although it’s not a new concept—the quote “Information is the currency of democracy” is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson—it is the modern policing concept on which the FBI’s Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) builds its reputation. In fact, the meaningful exchange of information, leads, news, and intelligence among criminal justice agencies is the LEEP’s top priority.
A Single Source for a Wealth of Information
The LEEP provides access to an ever-growing array of our partners’ information services in one spot and offers this wealth of data opportunities to its registered partners with a single login from their computer desktops. With a few keystrokes of one password, users from partner agencies like the Chicago Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety can access systems such as the Joint Automated Booking System (JABS), Intelink, and the Regional Information Sharing System (RISS). Users also get access to many FBI systems—they may obtain cybercrime complaint data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, counterterrorism threat tracking data from eGuardian, gang-related intelligence from the National Gang Intelligence Center, potential cyber-attack information through Malware Investigator, or investigative information via the National Data Exchange.
Equal in Importance to Information: Communication
If information is the currency of this age, protected and reliable communication is the conduit that keeps the currency flowing. LEEP users have the means to communicate securely through the use of Virtual Command Centers (VCCs) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs). VCCs provide secure monitoring of high-profile events and law enforcement operations. SIGs are online “communities” where users can access, share, and store data within particular interest groups.
The VCC in Action
Able to connect multiple locations, incidents, and events in a many-layered operation, the secure, flexible VCC is a force-multiplier. For example, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) gained access to the VCC commissioned for the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) manhunt for Eric Frein after he shot two PSP troopers in September 2014. The USMS’ access to the VCC was vital in the effort to keep information separate from an unrelated, ongoing USMS protective operation. The VCC allowed real-time data to seamlessly pass from the manhunt command post to the USMS operation with minimal effort. Because the USMS was able to continually receive updates rather than request information hourly or multiple times per day, the limited USMS protective operations staff was able to remain dedicated entirely to the tasks of the protective mission. Receiving this data heightened situational awareness, increased the effectiveness of the protective mission, and improved officer safety. In addition, the ability to monitor potential threats related to sightings of Mr. Frein and his last known locations gave officers up-to-the-minute operational information—this decreased the likelihood of any accidental “blue-on-blue” engagement. The VCC owners granting USMS permission to access the PSP shooting VCC is a prime example of interagency cooperation above and beyond the huge successes of the joint manhunt efforts.
LEEP and the National Strategy for Information Sharing and Safeguarding
As a member of the Information Sharing Environment (ISE)—the people, projects, systems, and agencies that enable responsible information sharing for national security—the FBI is one of four partners to take the lead in meeting the president’s December 2012 National Strategy for Information Sharing and Safeguarding. The Bureau worked with its ISE partners—the Department of Homeland Security Information Network, Intelink, and RISS—to establish a baseline of identification and authorization attributes for safeguarding the exchange of information between agencies.
Though it may not always be evident to the law enforcement officer or criminal justice agency member at the computer terminal, the LEEP is helping the blue line cut through the red tape to make information available between local, state, tribal, and federal agencies more quickly and safely online.
Become a Partner with the LEEP
Members of the law enforcement, criminal justice, and public safety communities with questions about access to the LEEP should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Law enforcement, criminal justice, and intelligence agencies that have a service to offer and are interested in LEEP users gaining access to their service may also contact email@example.com.