Critical Review of Deborah Osborne’s, Out of Bounds: Innovation and Change in Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysis

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Enforcement Intelligence Analysis

Intelligence information can never be ignored in a security establishment. The collection and analysis of intelligence information is pivotal in making major security decisions and their applications as there is no sense in collecting information without analyzing it. With the increase in the number of organized crimes in the world, the need not only to collect the information but to share it has arisen. There has been a deliberate effort to enable the law enforcement agencies that include the local, the state, the officials and the federal agencies to come together and have a common pool upon which all information collected is analyzed. However, due to limited resources, training and efforts of the state actors, such structures have largely remained dysfunctional as several law enforcement agencies still collect and retain their own information.  The book Out Of Bounds: Innovation and Change in Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysis by Deborah Osborne helps to understand some of the shortcoming and controversial areas in collection and analysis of intelligence information. It provides a critical analysis of how such information should be handled as well as proposes some of the methods that should be applied to enhance the analysis and usage of such data.

Deborah Osborne is a renowned crime analyst from the Buffalo, NY Police Department. Thus, the manuscripts of this book were prepared with the assistance and permission of the City of Buffalo. While working on the book, Osborne was affiliated with the Center for Strategic Intelligence Research where she acted as a non-resident research fellow. She also did several visits to Washington DC, as well as to Toronto, Canada. The main objective of this publication is to increase the awareness of the intelligence information and prompt the intelligence community to acknowledge its essence and work on their analytic tools to enhance the usage of intelligence information.

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The book Out Of Bounds: Innovation and Change in Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysis provides useful and in-dpth insights of the nature of intelligence information available for the federal government and demonstrates how the analysis of such information is done, as well as covers the issue of failures in the analysis of such data. At the beginning of the book, Osborne categorically states that there is a clear hitch on the way the intelligence information is analyzed. She, however, claims that at times, the police departments collect the information, but the FBI do not have access to this kind of information hence the data is not analyzed. Specifically, police departments collect information individually hence maintain an individual asset making it impossible for other security agencies to access such vital data. Sharing and correlation of this data from one jurisdiction to another has not been done because there is lack of proactive data analysis structures within the security departments (p. 15). Despite the stringiest measures that have been put in place in the USA after 9/11 in regards to the security including homeland security, most of the information collected largely remains useless since it is not analyzed (Malcolm, 2002). At times, law enforcement agencies send crime reports to the FBI, but this information is not usually specified. This makes it hard for the FBI to initiate enquiries and analyze the information.

Osborne provides an argumentative analysis of how information has been analyzed in police departments for decades. In chapter 1, she focuses on some of the untapped capacities by the agencies to analyze intelligence. The chapter contains a statistical analysis of data in regards to types of agencies, the number of agencies and the number of officers in such agencies. She argues that despite the fact that each of the agencies collects an enormous amount of information, the information is not analyzed. Thus, large quantities of information remain hidden within the reports whereas such analysis could result into direct efforts to deal with unforeseen crimes and in a way help to prevent terrorists activities in the United States.

It is, therefore, evident that there is a gap in the analysis of information. This means that there is no clear structure on who should be involved in the analysis of information and data. According to former CIA intelligence officer, Richard J. Heuer, major failures in the analysis of intelligence information are caused by inadequate methods of analyzing since the information is always availed (Heuer, 1999). He argues that there is a short fall in crime prevention and apprehension of criminal activities simply because information in law enforcement agencies is poorly analyzed (p. 14)

In the book under question, Osborne shows that the police law enforcement agencies continuously collect information. For instance, after the 9/11 bombings, a commission was formed to look into the matter. In its report, the commission noted that most of the law enforcement agencies focused on individual cases ignoring the big picture of how such a crime occurred and went ahead to analyze the qualitative data collected by various law enforcement agencies (Osborne, 2006). The writer notes that there are large quantities of data that has been collected for decades. Most of this data is mainly collected just for counting, but no one uses them for a larger scale. She underlines the importance of analyzing some parts of the existing information by finding or examining the indicators of the organized crimes as this can be of great importance in combating and reducing some of the domestic crimes that are costly to the state.

In terms of technology, Osborne states that the criminal world has an upper hand in regards to the use of technology as opposed to the law enforcement agencies. The reason for this is the fact that law enforcement agencies cannot afford rapid changes in technology hence the adoption of the potential technology becomes a problem. Secondly, the use of every technology has its own dangers in the security world. Although technology enhances the efficiency of the work done, there has been an argument that technology cannot replace analytical thought, hard work, as well as the investigative intuition of the officers (Osborne, 2006). Moreover, criminals are not restricted by funding or bureaucracy hence they at times outdo the security agencies in terms of technology adoption (p. 95).

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