Building A Law Enforcement Intelligence Operation Center, Part II

Posted on 13 April 2011 by


Patrick Ryder demonstrates the front-end of the NCPD Real Time Intelligence program (Photo: Geoffrey Walter, Mineola Patch)

In Part I of this article and podcast, we spoke with Patrick Ryder, the commanding officer of the asset forfeiture and intelligence division of the Nassau County, NY Police Department. Paddy is back this week for Part II of the podcast.

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For the past 11 years, Paddy has run one of the most intensive and sophisticated local law enforcement intelligence operations in the United States. He also is in charge of the asset forfeiture division that has provided funding to establish and expand that operation.

The NCPD Real Time Intelligence Center is Paddy’s brainchild, and it produces something which we recently described as straight out of 24. Some of the results have been astonishing.

To build the intelligence program, Ryder looked to the kind of things that he could do without spending money on custom-intelligence from external vendors. NCPD built up its intel capabilities by looking inward, finding information to leverage that they already had.

“Most agencies are collecting this information anyhow. It’s there somewhere in your department – whether it be the gang unit, the crimes against property squad, your detective division, your plainclothes, your cop on the street. Somebody knows something. By bringing them together and coordinating that information you create phenomenal intel products that you’re able to use effectively and efficiently to drive the numbers down.”

Feeds and Speeds
We asked Patrick what feeds the NCPD is looking at, so that other agencies can think about what they do. Ryder mentioned that the State of New York allows collection of DNA from those convicted over the past decade. The state was having issues collecting the samples for a variety of reasons.

NCPD worked with the state and the District Attorney to pro-actively collect DNA, extracting from the DA a promise to prosecute those who refused to give the sample for obstruction of governmental administration.

They took the list of approximately 1200 qualifying people in Nassau County, and started the campaign by sending letters: “Hi, we want your DNA, here’s why we’re entitled to it, it’s not optional, and if you don’t come down and do it voluntarily, we’ll come to your place of business or home and arrest you to get it.”

After 1200 letters were sent, about 350 people turned themselves in. The NCPD told cops the names and addresses of people in their beats, and through the Real Time screen, allowed the cops to see the residences, photos and profiles of those offenders.

It’s important to recognize that this was accomplished with an off-the-shelf Microsoft Access database and Excel spreadsheet; the agency is able to point specifically to a photo and say, ‘Here’s your bad guy, here’s where he lives, go get his DNA. If he refuses, arrest him.’ And after an arrest, the person may want to talk about other things, crimes that he knows about. The department has currently got half the list registered, and they’re still on it.

Every single arrest is debriefed, and the report goes to the intel center. This gets the cops more involved and shows them that they are part of the intel process.

Intel tracker They also built another process called the Intel Tracker, and every single report goes through it. It works as a deconflicting database, so that when an officer or investigator calls up a record on, say, Johnny Smith, and another officer has previously looked at that record, it brings those two cops together to discuss it.

Deconfliction As a Feed And, better yet, this deconfliction information itself serves as a feed of intelligence for the intel center – here’s a bad guy that is associated with more than one investigation, let’s start to see if his associations might bear investigative fruit.

Critical Infrastructure NCPD has also looked very carefully at the critical infrastructure of New York City and Long Island – from military facilities and utilities to storage facilities as a source of information on terror or drug activity. They have mapped, databased and coded these thousands of facilities, and using college interns to telephone these facilities on a regular basis, use the intelligence gathered or provided by the owners as a feed. For example, if storage-facility owners report suspicious comings and goings of a cash customer, this can be the basis of further investigation.

Banking Meetings Ryder also recognizes that because 85% of US critical infrastructure is privately held and protected by private security, a public-private cooperation is necessary. To that end, the intel center hosts regular breakfasts with banking officials and security executives, in which Ryder offers assistance on their cases. In addition to the intelligence gained, this builds strong public-private partnership for the cost of some coffee, water and donuts.

The Seven Day War
Ryder then talks about ShotSpotter and how the department uses that product as an intelligence feed. ShotSpotter is an acoustic gunshot location system that listens for gunshots and upon registering them, triangulates the location and time of gunshots, and simultaneously records them.

[Note: As full disclosure, David and I have been paid by ShotSpotter in the past to provide services that are unrelated to this podcast. No company, including ShotSpotter, has paid Dave, me, nor any company with which we are associated, for any coverage or mention on the PLI Podcast or the website; we do not accept advertising on this website or podcast. If you have questions about this disclosure, please contact us]

The Bloods and Crips conducted a seven-day war leading up to Christmas day of last year, and Ryder plays for us a one-minute clip of gunfire recorded by ShotSpotter. He then describes how the ShotSpotter data along with data from pole cameras, license plate readers and OSINT monitoring of, for example, social media, brought all the predictive intelligence capabilities the department had learned over the past several years to fruition.

We asked Paddy to walk us through his thinking, and to describe how he used the feeds in a predictive analysis case study.

Every shot was mapped by ShotSpotter. What Ryder did then, since NCPD already knows and has mapped where all the gang members live, was to start to overlay the gang residences to the gunshot locations. They made simple inferences: “Oh – that is a Crip house. It got shot up. It got shot up by a Blood.” etc. So they put cameras at those locations, under an assumption that there would be retribution shootings or further shooting activity.

They then looked at probation and parole records: who just got out of jail? It turned out, Ryder says, that Lord Carter just got released from Jail. King Carter, Lord Carter’s brother, had been killed a year earlier by a Crip. Lord Carter is now retaliating for that shooting of his brother. When James McClenick – a Blood member – was shot and killed, that started the war.

“So this called into play all the homework we had done, all the work we had put together. We predicted: the next shooting is going to be at this house here. Put a camera there. Put a post car there.”

“How did we know? Well, this guy lives here, and that would be the logical progression of this violence. Then we think it will move to where the Crip guy lives because I know from my gang guys that this is the number two guy in the organization, apparently the driver when they killed McClenick. So until homicide is ready to pick this guy up, we have to prevent his getting shot.”

The NCPD then used the intelligence they had to speak with community leaders and appeal to them for assistance. They responded well, they spoke with their people, requested ShotSpotter in that zone. All this coming together, putting together the pieces of the puzzle. Today we are going to do something. We pumped out intel bulletins, photos – we even sent a tip hotline bus – a van – painted with information and offering rewards for information (which also, by the way, produced tips and intelligence).

Administration Buy-in Dave asked how hard it was to get administration buy in. Sure, now the intel center is a model, but it wasn’t always like that – how did you convince the brass that this should happen?

The key, Ryder says, was that NCPD had a very aggressive commissioner, Lawrence W Mulvey, who believed in Intel, but the proof is in driving the crime numbers down.

The number one thing that Paddy says to his people is that they are salesmen, selling crime data. “What do you need? We never say no. We provide resources, doing analyst work. No analyst replaces a cop or detective, but analysts greatly support cops and detectives, so when you build a great intel program, that can support forfeiture program, you’re going to drive forfeiture up – we then sell or put into accounts after adjudication. If that money goes up? The intel is working. If the crime numbers go down? The intel is working.”

Ryder says that his intel unit is like COMPSTAT on steroids – it’s not just a commander of a precinct, it’s a county wide initiative.

But, he says, you need a good commander who believes in the value of intelligence.