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Overview of Department Law Enforcement Resources for Responding to Critical Domestic Incidents

Overview of Department Law Enforcement Resources for Responding to Critical Domestic Incidents

When a critical domestic incident occurs, the United States Department of Justice stands ready to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners with specialized investigative tools, subject matter experts, laboratory analysis, and other resources to identify the perpetrator and develop evidence to support prosecution. The Department can also support the immediate law enforcement response with additional personnel, tactical teams, vehicles, and other resources. Further, under appropriate circumstances, the Attorney General can authorize Department law enforcement agencies with specialized investigative purview or missions to enforce federal criminal law. Following an incident, the Department can assist the recovery through victims’ services and grant programs. Below is an overview of the Department’s law enforcement resources to support the immediate response to, investigation of, and recovery from critical incidents occurring within the United States. This overview is intended to serve as a guide, not an exhaustive catalog of resources. For additional information about these and other resources, please contact the local office of the relevant law enforcement agency.

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Firearms and Ammunition Resources

  • Firearms Tracing: ATF’s National Tracing Center will conduct an Urgent Trace on any firearm recovered or identified in connection with a critical incident, frequently providing results within minutes to hours. A successful trace can yield investigative results about how the suspected shooter acquired the firearm. ATF will also liaison with Federal Firearms Licensees for additional leads and conduct follow-up investigation on all firearms leads in coordination with incident commanders.
  • National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) and the NIBIN National Correlations and Training Center (NNCTC): NIBIN can determine if a firearm has been used in other incidents across the country by matching fired shell-casings to firearms. To maximize the investigative potential of NIBIN following a critical incident, ATF will assist with expediting NIBIN analysis and NNCTC correlation of recovered ballistics evidence.
  • Crime Gun Intelligence Centers (CGICs): CGICs fuse NIBIN and other forensic evidence with analysis of social media, phones, law enforcement records, and other sources to generate timely and actionable intelligence across jurisdictions. ATF operates CGICs in all 25 field divisions and will prioritize information processing and lead generation for critical incident investigations.
  • Firearms Subject Matter Experts: ATF’s subject matter experts will immediately respond to critical shooting incidents to provide interstate nexus determinations and firearms and ammunition classifications. These experts will also assist with warrant affidavits and testimony.

Explosives and Arson Resources

  • National Response Team (NRT): ATF’s NRT is comprised of subject matter experts in the areas of explosives and fire investigations, fire protection engineering, electrical engineering, forensic chemistry, forensic mapping, and include accelerant and explosives detection canine teams. The NRT arrives within 24 hours and seamlessly integrates with law enforcement partners to manage and investigate the scene and collect and analyze critical blast-related evidence.
  • Explosives Specialists: ATF’s explosives specialists will immediately respond to critical incidents to provide expertise on the identification, disposal, application, and effects of explosives.
  • National Center for Explosives Training and Research (NCETR): ATF’s NCETR will provide investigators with additional technical expertise and liaison with explosives manufacturers.
  • The United States Bomb Data Center (USBDC): ATF’s USBDC is the national repository for data on explosives and arson incidents and can trace recovered explosives, ordnance, and munitions from commercial and military sources to the point of origin in the U.S. or abroad.
  • Certified Fire Investigators (CFIs): ATF’s CFIs are subject matter experts in the area of fire investigation, origin, and cause determination. CFIs will provide technical assistance to law enforcement partners when the geographic range, magnitude, and complexity of an arson investigation extends beyond locally available resources.

Forensic Resources

  • Laboratory Services: ATF’s forensic labs specialize in the identification and analysis of explosives. The labs have unique expertise in the recovery of low-level DNA from explosive device components and evidence recovered in fire investigations. Specialized fire debris chemists can recover and characterize ignitable liquid residues. ATF’s forensic chemists will also respond to critical incidents and search warrant locations to provide technical assistance.
  • Digital Forensics: ATF’s field-based digital media collection specialists and a centralized facility for extraction, evaluation, and exploitation are available on a 24/7 basis.

Other Resources

  • Special Response Teams (SRTs): ATF’s SRTs are self-contained units composed of tactical operators, medics, tactical canines, and crisis negotiators that can rapidly respond to critical incidents.
  • Special Agent Canine Handlers (SACHs): ATF’s SACHs can provide a trained canine to detect firearms, shell casings, and explosives.
  • Technical Operations Branch: ATF’s digital imagery specialists can capture overt/covert evidence and coordinate the extraction and review of digital images from third party devices and surveillance systems.

Drug Enforcement Administration

  • El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC): DEA’s EPIC integrates multi-agency data, intelligence, investigative information, and technology on a 24/7 basis. EPIC will send a quick response team to the scene of a critical incident to help identify information related to a suspect through direct access to all of EPIC’s resources, including federal databases, pole camera/tracker device monitoring, and EPIC’s internal databases.
  • Clandestine Drug Laboratories: The DEA has the expertise and specialized equipment necessary to assess, dismantle, and process active clandestine drug laboratories, as well as evidence found in similar high hazard environments.
  • Special Response Teams: DEA has specially trained and equipped tactical units, composed of tactically trained agents and agent medics, that can rapidly respond to high-risk situations and natural disasters with capabilities that include high-risk entry and rural operations.

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Investigative and Intelligence Resources

  • Sacramento Intelligence Unit (SIU): The SIU is a BOP-sponsored, multi-agency intelligence unit that provides investigative, operational, and gang intelligence products related to security threat groups to other federal, state, and local law enforcement and correctional agencies.
  • Investigative Tools: The BOP has investigative tools to monitor, track, and deter inmates from continuing criminal activities while incarcerated by aggregating intelligence on inmates, including external communications, link analysis to other inmates, and gang affiliations.

Other Resources

  • Physical Assets: BOP has mobile bunk houses, mobile kitchens, mobile command vehicles, mobile showers, generators, tankers, transport buses, and a multitude of other equipment and resources maintained at all 122 BOP institutions nationwide.

United States Marshals Service

  • Specially Trained Personnel: USMS can deploy an array of specially trained personnel, including Fugitive Task Forces, Physical Security Specialists, Electronic Surveillance, Financial Surveillance and Criminal Intelligence Investigators, Explosives/Accelerant Detection K9 Teams, Operational Medics, and tactically trained personnel.
  • Special Operations Group: USMS has specially trained and equipped tactical units for high-risk situations, civil disorders, and natural disasters with capabilities that include high-risk entry, explosive breaching, sniper/observer, rural operations, and waterborne operations.
  • Critical Incident Response Team: Certified peer support personnel are available for deployment in response to traumatic incidents.
  • Incident Management Teams: USMS can provide command and general staff required to manage an incident or emergency.
  • Prisoner Movement Teams: USMS can provide detention officers, buses, vans, and aircraft across the U.S. if it is necessary to move prisoners following a critical incident.

Other Resources

  • Physical Assets: USMS has an array of transportation assets with crews, including boats, fixed wing aircraft, and mobile command posts. USMS can also deploy a range of equipment and vehicles, such as armored vehicles, ATVs, RV and cargo trailers, portable generators, trailered fuel tanks, communication equipment, and video surveillance.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Critical Incident Response

  • Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG): CIRG offers a variety of mission capabilities and expertise to address complex needs and critical incidents. In addition to providing enterprise-wide situational awareness, CIRG offers pre-crisis planning and special event management. On short notice, CIRG can provide aviation and ground surveillance, crisis management specialists, behavioral analysts, negotiators, bomb technicians, explosive device experts, and tactical resources such as the Hostage Rescue Team and specialty vehicles.
  • Victim Services and Officer Training: The FBI’s Victim Services Division works to inform, support, and assist victims in navigating the aftermath of a crime and the criminal justice process with dignity and resilience. Trained FBI specialists ensure that victims receive services and up-to-date notifications. The FBI also provides training and information to help equip FBI personnel and law enforcement partners to work effectively with victims.

Investigative and Intelligence Resources

  • Joint Intelligence Center (JIC): Intelligence, particularly a tactical intelligence effort, plays a crucial role in every critical incident. To any command post effort, the FBI would bring its intelligence assets to bear in a JIC in order to triage and enhance tip/lead information, help fully inform investigators about known subjects, and work to identify unknown subjects and co-conspirators.
  • Case and Leads Management: The FBI’s Sentinel is an automated case management system which transformed the way the FBI does business by allowing the Bureau to move from a primarily paper-based case management system to an electronic record system. Sentinel can be deployed to support law enforcement partners and cases with multiple sites, serial crimes, or large scale crime scenes, thereby allowing leads to be managed across agencies and jurisdictions.
  • Law Enforcement Agents: In large scale or crisis situations, the FBI can provide personnel to support law enforcement partners and will respond to the priorities and direction of the local unified commander. This support provides valuable expertise from the entire FBI enterprise to help overcome unique or complex challenges not typically faced by many state and local agencies.

Forensic Resources

  • Laboratory Division: Active shooters and bombings create dynamic and complex crime scenes. The FBI’s Laboratory and field Evidence Response Teams are able to respond to scenes of varying size and across multiple geographic locations to process the scene efficiently and methodically, using innovative tools such as 3D laser imaging. Law enforcement partners can take possession of evidence or allow the FBI Laboratory to process the evidence. The FBI Laboratory offers forensic examinations in a wide range of scientific disciplines, to include chemistry, hairs and fibers, DNA, firearms and toolmarks, latent fingerprints, questioned documents, cryptanalysis, anthropology, and improvised explosive device exploitation. The FBI Laboratory also manages the National DNA Database as well as the Rapid DNA Program.
  • Digital Video and Exploitation: Critical domestic incidents generate more digital video and evidence than ever before. The FBI can provide on-scene and remote support to process any amount of digital video or evidence, both to generate leads and for forensic case support.


Other U.S. Department of Justice Resources to Assist Communities Following Critical Incidents

Grants and Benefits

  • Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP): AEAP offers four grant streams to provide timely relief for immediate and ongoing victim assistance services to support crisis response, crime victim compensation, consequence management, and criminal justice support. For more information, please contact the Office for Victims of Crime,
  • Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG): Up to 5% of the total funds appropriated annually for JAG may be reserved each year and can be granted to respond to precipitous or extraordinary increases in crime. For more information, please contact the Bureau of Justice Assistance,
  • Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance (EFLEA): The EFLEA Act authorizes the Attorney General to provide federal assistance to States during law enforcement emergencies. These funds are typically limited to reimbursing law enforcement overtime related to the response and investigation of a major crime or terrorism event. For more information, please contact the Bureau of Justice Assistance, 202-616-6500.
  • Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program (PSOB): PSOB provides death and educational benefits to the survivors of fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders, and disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty. For more information, please contact the Bureau of Justice Assistance,

Toolkits, Resources, and Training

Department Law Enforcement Resources