Law Enforcement Perspective: International Association of Chiefs of Police Interview with Bart R. Johnson

By Matthew Harwood

I&A has been described as pushing out “intelligence spam” from the federal government to state and local governments through fusion centers. Did I&A take these criticisms seriously and is I&A trying to improve its reports by including more meaningful and actionable intelligence?

That was maybe the way things were two-and-a-half years ago, when I first got there. I would say that we as an organization, working closely with the FBI, are now providing actionable intelligence to the National Network of Fusion Centers and to many other stakeholders. We are providing meaningful intelligence. And you ask any law enforcement official from a major organization whether or not we’re doing that, and I’m pretty confident that they will say yes. Do we need to improve more? Of course we do. We can never remain stagnant. I think the most meaningful evidence of this was the days and months leading up to the tenth anniversary of 9-11, when we, in partnership with the FBI, produced a number of reports that were based on the threat. Together, we then sent these reports to the fusion centers and briefed them on the intelligence.

What improvement does I&A need to concentrate on making now?

They need to continue to build up the capabilities of the fusion centers as it relates to what Secretary Napolitano says: “building centers of analytical excellence.” To do that, we need well-trained, well-equipped analysts in the field and we’re starting to do exactly that through the sponsorship of a national conference that was held in November of 2011 and other trainings and network building opportunities. So when they receive intelligence or threat-related information, they have the ability to contextualize it and really determine what the “so-what factor” is for that area of responsibility. We have also strengthened our relationship amongst the analysts based within the Beltway with the analysts assigned to the fusion centers in the field. That is very important to ensure that the exchange of ideas and relationships continues to build since they both have so much to offer one another.

Over your long career, you’ve been a state trooper and a federal official. How do you plan on using these experiences to further increase the collaboration between the federal government and state and local law enforcement in your new position?

What I want to do, and what I hope I’ll be able to do, is work very closely with the board and bring some of my perspectives and some of my experiences to the table and hopefully contribute to continuing to build upon a fine tradition of the IACP, especially as it relates to intelligence and information sharing. I believe the IACP can continue to work with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in the establishment of a national strategy that acknowledges the progress of the past 10 years, validates it, and then offers a strategy for the next 10 years that will formalize this relationship in the form of an



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