New Jersey State Police leaders acknowledge that not too long ago, their investigations branch grabbed whatever bad guys it could – what Col. Joseph “Rick” Fuentes, the superintendent, termed “low-hanging fruit,” says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Now the force is taking a new approach to crime-busting, using the gathering, analysis, and sharing of information to pinpoint – then target – the most dangerous threats and pervasive criminals. New Jersey says it is the nation’s first law-enforcement agency to institute “intelligence-led policing” in a comprehensive way, with the help of a new state-of-the-art intelligence center.
Police credit the technique, which they began using last year, with dismantling what they say was the state’s deadliest gang, and with the success of a program aimed at reducing urban street shootings. “What’s unique about our shop is that it’s all crimes, all hazards,” Fuentes said. State police yesterday released details at a forum in New York hosted by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think-tank whose counterterrorism experts – along with a Temple University professor – helped implement the practice and draft a manual. “We used to go after whatever idiot criminal raised his head high enough,” said one official. “We wanted a better return on our investment.” State police leaders said they were looking to make a change last year when they turned to Jerry Ratcliffe, a London police officer-turned-academic. Ratcliffe, an associate professor of criminal justice at Temple, has done extensive work on intelligence-led policing, standard practice in Britain. “It’s about managing risk. It’s about surveying the organization to get as much information as you can to weigh the risks and decide where to put your resources,” he said. “In the end, you’re still going to run informants and do surveillance, but hopefully on your most direct threats.”