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Approaches To Deconfliction – A Law Enforcement Guide

Intelligence-Led Policing

Approaches To Deconfliction – A Law Enforcement Guide


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When you have multiple law enforcement agencies working independently of one another in a small, or even moderately sized, area, it is likely that there will eventually be a conflict. Event deconfliction is a way for law enforcement agencies to minimize their risk of jeopardizing a criminal investigation they have days, weeks, or even months invested in.

Raids, undercover operations, and surveillance details can easily be put in jeopardy if a neighboring agency unknowingly goes after a key player in a case. Event deconfliction works to prevent isolated incidents from ruining man-hours of work. Using best practices and programs that allow law enforcement agencies to share sensitive and confidential information without tainting their respective investigations.

Event Deconfliction

Event deconfliction requires that all agencies operating in a specific area must be willing to share enough information with other local agencies to prevent a conflict between operations from occurring. With today’s advanced technology, information can be shared over secure, confidential websites so that other officers can adjust their investigations accordingly.

If there is no way to move forward without interfering in another agency’s investigation, both organizations may be able to find a way to work together so that both can achieve their intended goals. This will depend on several factors and what each organization is trying to achieve. In many cases, the lead agency or the one that has the most authority within that particular agency will have the final say in what happens as the multiple investigations move forward.

Confidentiality Can Lead to Chaos

For most undercover investigations to be successful, they must be kept strictly confidential. Even when dealing with other law enforcement agencies, the risk of their investigation being compromised continues to rise as more people access the websites online that contain confidential data. Cases are sometimes labeled as “need to know” to prevent all but a select few from gaining the desired information.

Collaboration between agencies becomes a necessity when threats have been issued or if there is any risk at all of an officer or officers being harmed or injured in any way. By working together, agencies can share resources and data that have been collected throughout the duration of the investigation. While both agencies work together to fulfill their obligations and reach their goals, it is up to the members of each team to maintain the highest level of confidentiality.

Why Is Deconfliction so Important?

Using deconfliction best practices ensures that each agency’s investigation is allowed to move forward without compromising the other. If best practices are not followed, one or both organizations may not be able to continue and officers’ lives may be put in danger. Deconfliction uses advanced technology and a variety of resources to share information on undercover criminal investigations. This sharing of information makes it possible for both operations to coexist without disrupting one another’s progress.

When deconfliction is successful, prosecutors are able to take the information they receive and build powerful cases against all types of criminals, including those in organized crime. Undercover operations are also used when investigating government officials or prominent members of the community. In these situations, it may be beneficial to involve officers from more than one agency so that additional resources will be available if they are needed.

When Is Deconfliction Used?

Deconfliction is necessary when certain types of crime are being investigated. Gang activity, drug trafficking, and white-collar corruption are a few types of criminal activity that are wide-ranging. There are multiple people who work on many levels. During a criminal investigation, law enforcement officers may go undercover for long periods of time in order to gain the trust of the people they are trying to arrest. Having their identity uncovered by another office can be deadly and may put many different people in jeopardy. It will also alert the criminals to the investigation, destroying any chances of an arrest. Using the tools associated with deconfliction, the officers are able to continue working undercover without fear of their lives being jeopardized. Deconfliction can also be used to protect the public from becoming involved in incidents where they may be put in harm’s way.

Valuable Tools That Are Available to Each Law Enforcement Agency

There are multiple resources that agencies can use to stay in the loop when it comes to other operations in the area. There are three key systems that are connected through a unique interface that was developed by the owners of the system they all work through. Because these three systems work seamlessly together, they are able to provide accurate and up-to-date information that improves communication, enhances public safety, and strengthens prosecution strategies.

  • SAFETNet – HIDTA Investigative Support Center provides access to agencies who request information. (www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/hidta-points-of-contact)
  • Case ExplorerHIDTA (Washington/Baltimore High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area provides access to the departments that request it.
  • RISSafe – Access is granted through the local or regional RISS office (www.riss.net)

These resources will play an important role in helping law enforcement agencies to carefully monitor where other officers may be working undercover.

Benefits of Event Deconfliction

In addition to providing support for an undercover operation, deconfliction offers many benefits to everyone involved. They include:

  • Improves communications
  • Builds confident community relationships
  • Ties suspects to their appropriate cases
  • Limits the number of disruptions during an investigation
  • Strengthens the integrity of a case
  • Reduces potential risk and overall liability
  • Protects members of the community
  • Protects officers and their families

As an investigative tool, deconfliction allows officers to do their jobs without interruption or distraction.

Developing Best Practices

When developing the best practices for deconfliction, maintaining accountability and strictly following department protocols and policies is of the utmost importance. For many years, federal agencies, specially chosen task forces, and local law enforcement agencies have shared information pertaining to their individual operations. These models help agencies identify best practices that maximize efficiency and safety.

Today’s advancements in technology have made it much easier for agencies to share and relay important information. Agencies are able to monitor their officers more closely and provide accurate information in terms of location and the possibility of criminal activity. This helps to keep the public safe and prevents conflict from escalating if issues arise.

The Call to Action

The Call to Action is a directive issued in 2013 to assist law enforcement agencies with deconfliction strategies. Using the tools and resources ensures the safety of both the officers and the public at large. The Call to Action is intended to help law enforcement personnel with deconfliction. It provides details on how to work with one another using data-sharing systems to relay information between agencies.

The three systems are nationally recognized as effective tools that assist in the deconfliction process. By effectively using Case Explorer, SAFENet, and RISSafe, law enforcement agencies have been able to reduce the number of LEO lives lost in the line of duty. These systems have also been used to increase the number of cases solved and promote feelings of confidence within the community when it comes to transparency. Officers are able to use their training to bring cases to a close as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Participating in Event Deconfliction

Event deconfliction allows for an abundance of information to be exchanged between agencies so that any type of engagement is kept to a minimum. By using the best practices, information sharing systems, and investigative tools that they have at their disposal, law enforcement officers are able to better protect themselves and citizens in the area. With event deconfliction, there is a much higher probability that a case will be solved without increasing the overall threat of injury to officers or to the public.

Agencies across the country are continually training officers in the best practices and strategies of event deconfliction. As technology continues to advance, information sharing will continue to evolve. It will become more elaborate, more secure, and much more effective. Issues involving transparency and accountability will be addressed with the implementation of new protocols that improve efficiency and enhance safety.

Event deconfliction is a powerful tool that can be extremely effective at saving lives and bringing criminals to justice. It allows law enforcement officers to not only do their jobs but also to work together to achieve their intended goals. Undercover operations, raids, and surveillance stakeouts cost money and can take several months to produce the desired results. Deconfliction saves time and money by eliminating disruptions and allows agencies to come together instead of disturbing one another’s progress.

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