Intelligence Process

Also known as the intelligence cycle, the intelligence process focuses on turning information into intelligence; in most cases, it is hoped, actionable intelligence. Actionable intelligence is intelligence that can be used to initiate activity in the field. Keep in mind, however, that intelligence is not always 100% accurate, but when it is properly processed and disseminated, it is the lifeblood of those making investigative decisions.

The intelligence process may look different at times, especially in terms of the sequence of events, but depending on how it is used, the key components usually do not deviate that much.

Five-Step Intelligence Process

  • Step 1: Planning and direction. Step 1 involves identifying the need for intelligence. This step clarifies the request that calls for intelligence and helps to define how the results will be presented.
  • Step 2: Collection. The second step involves collecting information and data that relate to the subject in question. This step usually involves a mass collection of information and the review of previous intelligence; both new and old information need to be vetted—given a careful and critical examination—for relevance, significance, and accuracy.
  • Step 3: Processing. The third step involves filtering all of the collected information into a usable and organized format that can be analyzed for relevance and priority.
  • Step 4: Analysis. In this step, the intelligence is analyzed.This means that the information collected is converted into actual intelligence that can now be disseminated in various forms.
  • Step 5: Dissemination. This step has multiple layers to it in regard to information sharing. It must be decided to whom the intelligence will be disseminated, and how much of it will be shared. Dissemination typically involves the release of the findings by written correspondence, verbal briefing, or any form that seems like a proper way to communicate the factual results of the weighed and analyzed intelligence.

There is a possible Step 6: réévaluation. Sometimes there needs to be a continued analysis of the released intelligence, and in a follow-up process, it may be important to gauge the accuracy of the intelligence, the need for more in-depth review, or the re-creation of finished, or updated, intelligence products.

Case Study: Assisting with the Identification of an Out-Of-State Murder Suspect

Step I: Planning Stage

A crime analyst was contacted by a local homicide investigator in regard to assisting an out-of-state police department in identifying a local individual who was a suspect in a double murder in the other state. The crucial piece of modus operandi, as indicated by the investigator, was that the homicide seemed to be drug-related, and it appeared that the homicide suspect had been robbed by local drug dealers. This suspect was from the state in which the analyst currently worked, and that was why the request was made from the out-of-state police agency.The analyst discussed the case directly with the out-of-state police investigator.

In this case, it was determined that the need to examine local intelligence on the possible murder suspect might help to ascertain the local suspect s associates, who could turn out to be accomplices in the homicide.

Step 2: Collection Stage

The out-of-state investigator gave the analyst the information that an unknown female, who could only be identified by the apparent nickname “Jeannie,” had been a major heroin distributor within the other state for the past year. This woman who went by the name of Jeannie was a close associate of the male who was initially arrested for the double murder.The out-of-state investigator sent the analyst a link to a social media page for the female, hoping that the analyst would be able to identify her.

In this case, we see that the collection of information involved a nickname and a social media link on the possible second suspect. However, the information had yet to be deemed relevant.

Step 3: Processing Stage

In examining the social media page, the analyst found no photos of actual people on the page, and no information indicating who the account belonged to. However, the analyst was able to locate a post from the previous year where the account holder referred to an actual “named person” as Mom, and it was stated in a social media posting that she would see “Mom” on a street within the jurisdiction of the police agency in which the analyst worked.

The analyst now had an actual name to work with.The analyst was able to research that name in multiple databases and was able to locate a female with the same name who lived on the street mentioned in the social media posting. The analyst then researched the background of this female and found her to have two daughters.

In this step, the tactical analyst not only collected intelligence, but also processed it for relevance. It was found to be very relevant.

Step 4: Analysis Stage

The analyst researched both daughters and found one to have a local arrest history.The analyst also located a police-documented field interview form (FIF).This is a form in which a police officer documents street contacts they had during their shifts. The daughter was listed on the FIF, along with a male cousin of hers. The officer also documented on the FIF the male cousins prior local jail inmate number. The analyst researched the cousins history and found that he had spent five years in state prison for drug possession, and that he also had a violent arrest history.

The collected information was analyzed for relevance and converted into actual intelligence that could be used for investigative purposes.

Step 5: Dissemination Stage

The information collected and analyzed by the tactical analyst was enough to indicate to her that the now-identified female with the social media account and the nickname Jeannie had a real name, and that she had contact with individuals prone to violence and narcotics activity. With the collected and documented intelligence, the analyst created an intelligence product that also included a police jail photograph of the female taken from a previous local arrest. The analysis report was sent to the out-of-state police investigator.

The out-of-state investigator contacted the analyst and confirmed with her that the intelligence had led to the identification of the second murder suspect who had previously been known only as Jeannie. The investigator also confirmed that this female was also a major narcotics dealer in her state, thus further tying her into the drug-related double murder.

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