Study: Local Intelligence Sharing a System of ‘Organized Chaos’


State and local agencies operate under a patchwork of guidelines — often without reasonable suspicion or oversight — when collecting and sharing personal information, according to a national study released today by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

The center surveyed 16 major police departments, 19 affiliated fusion centers, and 14 Joint Terrorism Task Forces and uncovered a series of documents detailing guidelines for local intelligence gathering.

“What we found was organized chaos: A sprawling, federally subsidized, and loosely coordinated system designed to share information that is collected according to varying local standards,” researchers wrote.

The study reveals that for most local police departments, there is little oversight to guard against violations of civil liberties during intelligence gathering.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation does not follow up on 95 percent of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) collected by local police, researchers wrote, “because the data is not relevant.”

But local police retain data collected, even after the FBI rejects it.

The Los Angeles Police Department retained 98 percent of its intelligence files between 2008 and 2010, even though the Los Angeles fusion centers determined that just 2 percent of the SARs had an “articulable connection to terrorism.”

Read the full report HERE.

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