USNCB Strengthens State Access to International Systems
For almost a decade, INTERPOL Washington, the United States National Central Bureau (USNCB), has empowered the nation’s law enforcement to utilize both national and INTERPOL criminal indices. The process of linking states together to use INTERPOL systems, known as federation, will assist officers across the country in making determinations about persons or items they encounter in the field: suspected fugitives, victims, stolen vehicles, stolen travel documents, etc.
The national goal of federation is to streamline law enforcement queries into single requests, accessible via an officer’s vehicle or handheld device. Those queries would be routed through various national systems, such as the International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets) and National Criminal Information Center (NCIC). Such systems provide information such as a suspect’s name, charges, and threat level. That information enhances the effectiveness of all police action, from an officer’s safety during a traffic stop to informational support for an investigation.
To date, 12 states and the District of Columbia have become consistent users of these services. Their combined 67 million queries for people, vehicles, firearms, and/or travel documents have allowed for the dissemination of information about dangerous criminals, who may be moving within or outside the United States. As more states utilize this service, the likelihood of successfully identifying a suspect increases. Since 2006, the total number of queries made by states has grown exponentially, a growth assisted by the cost to federate being minimal: personnel training, administration, and other ‘soft’ costs. As the program grows, it may be used to increase U.S. law enforcement’s situational awareness in the period following terrorist attacks.
Following the San Bernardino attack in 2015, the USNCB is discussing a federation pilot with the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). The component’s close relationship with state and local law enforcement will allow it and the USNCB to identify grants and/or funding streams for federating states.