Incident Report Revision Helps LAPD Gather Terrorism Intelligence

The Los Angeles Police Department has incorporated terrorist intelligence gathering into its standard incident report form,  an approach the federal government may market as a national model, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Since 9-11, government officials and counterterrorism experts have argued police must become the front-line in the nation's counterterrorism efforts, collecting intelligence that could spell another attack. Police officers, however, did not have the knowledge, training, or systematic approach necessary to successfully gather and analyze intelligence.

The federal government believes Commander Joan T. McNamara, who heads the LAPD's Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau, has changed that.

... McNamara ... revised the investigative report that officers must fill out for crimes, real or suspected, adding a section where they can describe in detail any kind of potential terrorist-related activity. In addition, officers are now required to fill out the forms if they observe suspicious activity, whether or not a crime was committed .... In recent months, all LAPD officers have been receiving training in what kinds of suspicious activities to look for, based on a 65-item checklist that McNamara and her small staff drew up. The checklist includes indications that someone conducted surveillance on a government building, tried to acquire explosives, openly espoused extremist views or abandoned a suspicious package.

If any of the above suspicious activities are listed in the report, the officer checks a box on the front page of the report. That check mark means that the report gets forwarded to analysts in McNamara's intelligence bureau who then enter the information into a database that's open to other law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. Directorate of National Intelligence has championed McNamara's approach as a national model and has already sent teams to Boston and Chicago to assess the effectiveness of trying it there before it's duplicated elsewhere.


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