U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, led a briefing on Tuesday for members of Congress and their staffs to provide an on-the-ground status update on law enforcement information-sharing initiatives. The event, "Shared Strength: A Status Update on Law Enforcement Information-Sharing Initiatives," was sponsored by the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus and featured speakers from local and national law enforcement agencies, including the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System's executive director, Peggy Bell.
"Protecting our communities from dangerous threats works best when law enforcement agencies work together," Senator Coons said. "Information-sharing has been an especially critical piece of our public safety strategy since September 11, when we learned that our local, state, and national agencies were unable to communicate during emergencies in the ways they needed to. Our agencies have made great strides since then in breaking down silos and allowing for a more efficient flow of communication, and I wanted to share that progress with my colleagues with this event. What was clear from today's briefing is that work still needs to be done, however, to improve the communication and coordination between agencies. We must continue work to ensure that all agencies are properly equipped with up-to-date technologies and practices to help them save lives and protect the public's safety."
More than 60 people attended Tuesday's event in the Capitol Visitors Center. Senator Coons delivered keynote remarks at the briefing, and was followed by Peggy Bell, executive director of the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System; Ron Brooks, president of the National Narcotics Officers' Associations' Coalition; Gary MacNamara, chief of police in Fairfield Connecticut; and Tim Richardson, senior legislative liaison for the Fraternal Order of Police.
"Delaware law enforcement went from reporting crime from pen and paper to capturing data at the source," Peggy Bell, executive director of Delaware Criminal Justice Information System, said. "Data capture is enhanced and shared through the entire justice process and automatically shared with authorized criminal justice agencies. Today's streamline reporting makes notices of arrests of those in trusted positions readily available to safe guard Delaware's citizens. Computer information has become a vital part of law enforcement communication."
The briefing covered a wide range of issues, including the impact of task forces, fusion centers, Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS), National Criminal History Improvement Program and other programs to advance law enforcement priorities and officer safety.
The RISS program is a nationwide information sharing and investigative support program that serves thousands of local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, Australia, Canada, England, and New Zealand. RISS is a valuable, cost-effective program that provides support efforts to combat violent and organized crime, as well as drug and gang activity, terrorism and human trafficking. The success of RISS has led to an increased demand from jurisdictions around the country to provide the funding necessary to support these organizations. RISS provides critical products and services to law enforcement member organizations, including pooled equipment, intelligence briefings, trainings and analytical support.
Senator Coons chaired a field hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in Wilmington, Delaware, in June 2011 that focused on the success Delaware's local law enforcement agencies have had with state and federal agencies in sharing intelligence to effectively improve policing and make our streets safer.
The Senate Law Enforcement Caucus educates and informs Members and staff about the policies, programs, and initiatives that enhance public safety and strengthen our criminal justice system. In the midst of shrinking budgets, law enforcement agencies all across the country continue to work tirelessly to keep our communities and families safe.