If there was one overarching theme at the 12th annual Homeland Security Week conference opening session Wednesday, it was an examination of how intelligence agencies and police departments are expanding the ways they gather intelligence and collaborate.
In the first keynote address, David Glowe, undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said terrorist organizations, international drug cartels and cyber criminals are adopting increasingly sophisticated technologies and methods, which must be combated with greater inter-agency and international intelligence sharing.
Homeland Security Week Keynote: We Haven’t Achieved the Goal of ‘One Team, One Fight’ Yet
Intelligence partnerships are crucial to combating national and international threats, he said. But we haven’t achieved the goal of “one team, one fight” yet.
The overriding goal of the intelligence community is to “mitigate and respond” to threats against society, Glowe noted, whether they come from abroad or are the work of homegrown shooters and bombers.
Recent horrendous events such as the mass shooting in Las Vegas or the bombing at the pop concert in Manchester, England, “are changing how we do business in intelligence,” Glowe said. Our laws and policies have not kept up with the threat from international criminal organizations and terrorists.
“Do FISA [Foreign Intelligence Security Act] laws apply in international intelligence?” Glowe asked rhetorically. The U.S. government needs “to make hard decisions” about its legal authority and the threat environment, Glowe said.
From international crime and terrorism, the spotlight turned to protecting the citizens of New York City. Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill said the use of advanced technology has resulted in lower crime rates in the city and tighter antiterrorist protections across the entire metropolitan area.
In his keynote address, O’Neill cited the bombings in the Chelsea section of Manhattan and in New Jersey in 2016 that injured 31 persons. It was the cooperation of all law enforcement agencies, especially the FBI and the NYPD, he said, that led to the capture of Ahmad Khan Rahimi. O’Neill said video surveillance played an important role in Rahimi’s capture.
The commissioner also discussed the controversial issue of equipping the police force with body cameras. He called BodyWorn cameras “a game changer” and a necessity for today’s law enforcement agencies. So far, the NYPD has equipped about 900 officers with the cameras.
“We have to speed up delivery,” O’Neill said, because the goal is for all 21,000 police officers to have them by 2019.
In a Threatening Situation, Police Don’t Always Remember To Turn on Their Cameras
Chris Lindenau, chief revenue officer at BodyWorn, said one of the issues with body cameras is that when police officers are in a threatening situation, they don’t always remember or think about turning on their cameras.
One idea might be to equip officers’ holsters with an electronic device that would automatically turn on the camera as soon as the gun was drawn. “That would only catch maybe half of the incident,” Lindenau said, because it would not show what happened earlier to cause the officer to draw a weapon. “A better solution – and we’re working on it – would be an audio trigger that would turn on the camera at the first sound of a gunshot.”
O’Neill also credited Compstat policing for reducing neighborhood crime. The NYPD developed Compstat, meaning “computer statistics,” in the 1990s. Police as well as citizens can scan their neighborhoods online to spot crimes or potential trouble and call 9-1-1.
Thursday’s sessions will include a keynote address on “Protecting the Homeland” by Dan Coates, Director of National Intelligence in the Department of Homeland Security.