Intelligence-Led Policing and Civil Liberties

Intelligence-led policing (ILP) is a policing model that has emerged in recent years which is “built around risk assessment and risk management”. The leading definition is that ILP is “a strategic, future-oriented and targeted approach to crime control, focusing upon the identification, analysis and ‘management’ of persisting and developing ‘problems’ or ‘risks’” (de Lint, 2006). In simpler terms, it is a model of policing in which intelligence serves as a guide to operations, rather than the reverse (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2007).Peterson (2005) explains ILP as follows: Intelligence-led policing is a collaborative enterprise based on improved intelligence operations and community-oriented policing and problem solving, which the field has considered beneficial for many years. To implement intelligence-led policing, police organizations need to reevaluate their current policies and protocols. Intelligence must be incorporated into the planning process to reflect community problems and issues.Information sharing must become a policy, not an informal practice. Most important, intelligence must be contingent on quality analysis of data. The development of analytical techniques, training, and technical assistance needs to be supported. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 revealed the life-and-death importance of enhancing U. S. intelligence operations. Since that day, a tremendous amount of attention has been focused on the need for constructive changes in law enforcement intelligence (Peterson, 2005).The view that terrorism can be treated as a form of criminal behavior that requires no more than ”normal policing” is particularly stressed by those who argue that civil liberties are at grave risk when governments use the ‘menace’ of terrorism as an ‘excuse’ for altering the balance of power between the citizen and the state (Robertson, 1987). The safest and surest way of preventing a terrorist attack is to monitor effectively every individual or group who may possibly be planning such an attack.But the result of that, besides an immense expenditure of investigative resources, is to expose large numbers of individuals and groups who have no violent intentions to monitoring because of some small chance that the government may have overlooked the danger of the group or individual (Heymann, 2002). Under U. S. law, police and other government officials are subject to specific guidelines which govern their authority to intrude into the activities of citizens for the purpose of criminal investigation, gathering of evidence, or criminal prosecution.Official intrusion consists of three activities- surveillance, searching, or seizing (del Carmen, 2004). As a police practice, surveillance is the collecting of investigative observations or data; searching for evidence is the probing into personal activities or belongings to discover incriminating evidence; seizing of evidence is the taking of items to be used in criminal investigations or prosecutions. Originally, police surveillance and search practices were strictly for detecting evidence for criminal prosecutions.However, increasingly police surveillance is also being used for the preventive purpose of gathering information on persons perceived to be crime or terrorist threats (Cole, 2004). Such surveillance is said to ‘chill’ citizen willingness to express opinions or participate in social movements, to damage personal privacy, to lead to denial of state employment, to concentrate power, to erode normal police and court procedures, and to lead to the use of ‘dirty tricks’.This catalogue of fears would certainly seem sufficient to give rise to the need for eternal vigilance if nothing else, yet these fears, in and of themselves, do not form a sufficient reason to justify the restriction of the intelligence activities of a state responding to terrorism (Robertson, 1987). Americans have long been concerned about government surveillance (Albanese, 1984).Because of its democratic ideals and commitment to an equitable balance between government power and civil liberty, U. S. citizens are accustomed to wrestling with this political issue. As noted, perceived threats from crime, drugs, and terrorism have been used as a justification to expand government social controls (Bloss, 2007). Whitaker (2003) claims that “the historical cycle in which violent threats generate the expansion of arbitrary and intrusive powers of overnment is being repeated. Once again, the constitutional protection of rights is being dismissed, sometimes from the highest offices in the land, as an inconvenient impediment to safety. ” When agencies long accustomed to acting without regard to constitutional restrictions abroad are allowed to join more fully in law enforcement efforts at home, there is clearly a danger that constitutional protections may be ignored here as well.Even if intelligence-gathering agencies merely make data available that could not be legally obtained by a domestic agency, the practical result may be that U. S. law enforcement is freed of constitutional restrictions (Smith, 2004). While the belief of whether intelligence-led policing infringes on civil liberties is often divided along political lines, there is much debate as to the powers of the federal government. Many people believe that the federal government is overstepping its Constitutional authority in the War on Terror.Heymann (2002) makes the following argument in regard to civil liberties in the aftermath of September 11th: “…the gravest danger to civil liberties and human rights emerging in the aftermath of September 11 is that leaders will think we are without courage; without concern for non-citizens within the United States; indifferent to the welfare of citizens repressed by despotic governments; prepared to accept without question unequal treatment based on ethnicity; and unable or unwilling to see that there will and must be trade-offs even among our own freedoms and to share in considering them carefully”.I am of the understanding that the government through its policing agencies has to take steps to combat the continuous threat of terrorism, and that intelligence-led policing is the best option available to federal, state, local, and tribal policing agencies. My worry is that as we surrender civil liberties in order to be safe, where do we draw the line?Which civil liberties are acceptable to surrender, and which ones are not? Additionally, my belief is that if we are surrendering civil liberties to be safe, then we have already lost the War on Terror. If we have to change our way of living to avoid terroristic attack, then we lose and the terrorists win.