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Frequently Asked Questions

What is INTERPOL?

Is the United States a member of INTERPOL?

What is INTERPOL Washington?

Are there INTERPOL agents?

What languages does INTERPOL use to communicate with its member countries?

Who can use INTERPOL?

What are INTERPOL notices?

Can a person be arrested based on an INTERPOL Red Notice?

How can U.S. law enforcement officials access and use the INTERPOL Notice system

Can private individuals request assistance from INTERPOL or INTERPOL Washington?

Can a private citizen report a crime, or provide tips on fugitives or other criminal activities to INTERPOL or INTERPOL Washington?

Does INTERPOL or INTERPOL Washington contact private citizens to request personal or financial information?

What is INTERPOL? INTERPOL, the International Criminal Police Organization, is the world’s largest international police organization, with 190 member countries.  Founded in 1923, its mission is to facilitate the exchange of police information and promote cooperation and assistance between law enforcement authorities of its member countries.

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Is the United States a member of INTERPOL? Yes, the United States is a member of INTERPOL, as authorized by Title 22, United States Code §263a.  As a condition of membership, the United States maintains a National Central Bureau (NCB) in Washington, D.C., which serves to maintain liaison with the Organization’s General Secretariat in Lyon, France, and the National Central Bureaus of INTERPOL’s 189 other member countries.  The United States also details (“seconds”) law enforcement officials to serve at INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon, France.

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What is INTERPOL Washington? INTERPOL Washington is the United States National Central Bureau of INTERPOL. As such, it serves as the official point of contact for all INTERPOL-related matters involving the United States and its federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.  A component of the U.S. Department of Justice, INTERPOL Washington is co-managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. INTERPOL Washington provides investigative support and secure communications between U.S. law enforcement authorities and their counterparts in 189 other INTERPOL member countries, as well as administering U.S. authorities’ access to INTERPOL databases, resources, and services.

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Are there INTERPOL agents? INTERPOL does not have its own law enforcement agents. INTERPOL provides investigative support and secure communications between law enforcement authorities and their counterparts in 190 INTERPOL member countries, as well as administering their access to INTERPOL databases, resources, and services.

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What languages does INTERPOL use to communicate with its member countries?INTERPOL communicates with its member countries in four officially-designated languages:  English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

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Who can use INTERPOL? INTERPOL resources and assistance are generally available only through the law enforcement authorities and National Central Bureaus of its member countries.

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What are INTERPOL notices? INTERPOL administers a system of international “lookouts” or advisories to assist law enforcement authorities in its member countries.  These Notices, color-coded to designate their specific purposes, are published by INTERPOL at the request of member countries, and are distributed to member countries and their law enforcement officials.

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Can a person be arrested based on an INTERPOL Red Notice? Once published by INTERPOL, each member country determines what effect to give a Notice within its jurisdiction according to its national law and practice. The United States does not consider a Red Notice alone to be a sufficient basis for the arrest of a subject because it does not meet the requirements for arrest under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. Instead, the United States treats a foreign-issued Red Notice only as a formalized request by the issuing law enforcement authority to “be on the look-out” for the fugitive in question, and to advise if they are located.

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How can U.S. law enforcement officials use the INTERPOL notice system? In the United States, INTERPOL Washington is responsible for seeking the publication of all INTERPOL Notices on behalf of U.S. authorities, and alerting U.S. authorities to the existence of INTERPOL Notices published on behalf of other countries. U.S. law enforcement authorities that desire the publication of an INTERPOL Notice should contact INTERPOL Washington for assistance.

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Can private individuals request assistance from INTERPOL or INTERPOL Washington? No. INTERPOL and INTERPOL Washington are generally permitted to assist only law enforcement authorities.  Private individuals seeking assistance in international criminal matters should contact their local police department or other appropriate law enforcement agency, which may then contact INTERPOL Washington for assistance.

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Can a private citizen report a crime, or provide tips on fugitives or other criminal activities to INTERPOL or INTERPOL Washington? Private citizens should report crimes or provide information on criminals via their local police department or law enforcement agency, which may contact INTERPOL Washington if international assistance is required.

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Does INTERPOL or INTERPOL Washington contact private citizens to request personal or financial information? No.  Neither INTERPOL nor INTERPOL Washington contacts private citizens to request personal information.  INTERPOL Washington communicates with official law enforcement officials only. INTERPOL is aware of emails circulating on the Internet from individuals claiming to be officials or agents of INTERPOL or INTERPOL Washington that ask for personal or financial information.  These messages often imply that they are trying to verify information or offer protection.  The messages may also include a threat that a citizen will be considered a criminal if he or she does not comply.

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If an individual receives an email from someone claiming to represent INTERPOL or INTERPOL Washington, and personal information or bank account information requested, the request should be ignored; neither personal nor financial information should be provided.  In cases where personal or financial information is inadvertently provided, local law enforcement should be contacted immediately to determine how to proceed.

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For additional information on avoiding Internet frauds and scams go to:

http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

http://onguardonline.gov/topics/avoid-scams .

 

Updated: October 2012

Interpol  Washington - Domestic Focus... International Reach
General Information INTERPOL U.S. National USNCB
 
Leadership
Shawn A. Bray
Director
Contact
INTERPOL Washington
U.S. National Central Bureau
(202) 616-9000
Interpol
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