Promising Practices in Forensic Lab Intelligence—Sharing Lab Intelligence to Enhance Investigations and Intelligence Operations

December 2019

State, local, and federal law enforcement intelligence-related efforts have produced improvements in intelligence training and an emphasis on crime analysis. In particular, there has been a keen focus on intelligence-led policing as a model that can introduce new ideas, assets, and practices into strategic and tactical efforts to prevent crime and/or identify its perpetrators. Forensic laboratories (labs) hold a significant amount of data and engage in a wide variety of scientific disciplines. The notion that the scientific process is closely aligned with the intelligence cycle presents an excellent opportunity to expand the landscape of intelligence development. Forensic labs develop objective, data-based primary investigative intelligence which, when combined with existing data and other forensic lab information, is often new information. This lab-aggregated data can be used as leads for investigative agencies. Integrating such forensic information in the intelligence process can enhance the relevancy and applicability of intelligence. Promising practices are needed to facilitate cross-collaboration between investigative and lab functions to enhance both entities’ abilities to analyze their operations’ effectiveness, provide better information to decision makers and practitioners, and improve the identification of investigative leads and detection of emerging trends.

The Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council (CICC) established a task team to explore forensic lab promising practices and lessons learned as they relate to intelligence sharing opportunities and developed recommendations for the field to further improvements in the collection and sharing of intelligence. This effort was coordinated with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, and supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The CICC, on behalf of the Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (Global), developed this resource to provide intelligence units (law enforcement intelligence functions and fusion centers) with promising practices and recommendations on how to develop or enhance the relationships between forensic labs and intelligence units to further build out agency intelligence efforts. These include examples of ways to leverage lab submissions and analysis to augment intelligence operations, as well as examples of how labs and intelligence units are working together to exchange information. The recommendations contained within this resource are a result of research on existing resources, deliberation with a committee of law enforcement and forensic lab subject experts, and site visits with several lab services that lend themselves to producing intelligence and assisting with investigations and other law enforcement and homeland security operations.

The CICC task team charged with the development of this resource was composed of state, local, and federal forensic laboratory and intelligence unit subject experts.

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