REGIONAL INFORMATION SHARING SYSTEMS (RISS)
CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF RISSNET
In the late ’60s and early ’70s, there was a serious problem in the southeastern United States with the mobility of the criminal element. They were generally referred to as “traveling criminals,” working in more than one jurisdiction. Through the efforts of law enforcement leaders in the southeastern states, quarterly meetings were held in Atlanta, Georgia, for officers to meet and share information regarding these multijurisdictional criminals. The participating agencies then provided an invitation to expand the meetings to cover the entire Southeast region.
However, a significant complication developed. The meetings were open to anyone in law enforcement (and sometimes non-law enforcement), and there were no formal protocols in place to ensure confidentiality of the discussions. It soon became evident that a trusted network was needed that consisted of officers who were screened for their reputation and interest so that when information was exchanged, everyone could believe it would be handled professionally. As a result, the Regional Organized Crime Information Center (ROCIC) was created as a state and local law enforcement initiative in response to these troublesome regional crime problems. In the years that followed, the other five RISS Centers were also created. Although not called such at the time, the Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) Program was born.
In the mid-1990s, the RISS Directors recognized a critical need to improve the method by which criminal intelligence and other information was shared with its member law enforcement agencies. The RISS Directors established two primary technology goals: (1) electronic connection of the six RISS computer systems for direct database access and administrative communication and (2) member agency electronic connection to each RISS Center for database access and administrative communication. To achieve the electronic connection, RISS designed, developed, and implemented the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET) (previously known as the RISS Secure Intranet) in 1996. RISSNET is a secure infrastructure for law enforcement and criminal justice agencies to share information and intelligence data across jurisdictions. As the demand for sharing critical criminal justice and public safety information grew, the RISS Directors recognized the need for a technology staff that had a nationwide focus. In 1999, the RISS Office of Information Technology was established to manage RISSNET and to develop and support related information sharing resources. In 2012, the RISS Directors agreed to further restructure and refine the RISS technology component. The name was changed from the Office of Information Technology to the RISS Technology Support Center (RTSC) which is located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of RISSNET. The RISS Directors and staff at the centers and RTSC are proud of this milestone and the impact that RISSNET has made to the law enforcement community. Today, hundreds of resources (most owned by RISS members and partners) rely on the RISSNET infrastructure to share millions of records among and between law enforcement from all levels of government. In addition, these resources have been made available to thousands of users from more than 9,000 local, state, federal, and tribal agencies, including more than 30,000 users who access RISSNET resources via single sign-on (SSO) from their home agency system. In FY2016, users accessed RISSNET resources more than 1.7 million times.
Currently, more than 80 systems are connected or pending connection to RISSNET. More than
44.2 million records are available through these and other RISSNET resources. The RISSNET Portal provides a single secure website to access all RISSNET resources. RISS has developed a number of resources accessible via RISSNET that are critical to the law enforcement community’s mission. Examples are provided below.
- The RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel) provides for real-time online federated search of more than 50 RISS and partner intelligence systems connected through RISSNET.
- The RISS National Gang Program (RISSGang) consists of the RISS National Gang Intelligence Database, the RISSGang Website, and informational resources.
- The RISS Automated Trusted Information Exchange (ATIX) was developed for first responders to communicate with one another, both within their areas of responsibilities and with other public safety partners. RISS ATIX resources include ATIX web pages, discussion forums, and the ATIX document library.
- Law Enforcement Hosted Websites are full-function collaboration websites that are established on a nationwide, regional, local, or team level. These sites provide authorized users the ability to share information, post materials, and communicate. There are more than 35 Law Enforcement Hosted Websites.
- The RISSLeads Investigative Website enables authorized law enforcement officers and other authorized users to post information regarding cases or other law enforcement issues.
- The RISS Centers have developed regionally relevant investigative systems that have been launched RISS-wide, such as the Money Counter Project and the RISS Master Telephone Index.
- RISS recognized the importance of ensuring the safety of law enforcement officers and citizens, and in an effort to further enhance officer safety, developed the RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe).
- The RISS Officer Safety Website provides secure access to vetted, trusted information and materials on topics including armed and dangerous individuals and situations, weapon concealments, vehicle concealments, narcotics concealments, and other officer safety-related concealments.
The six RISS Centers deploy state of the art technology and employ highly skilled information technology staff to operate and maintain RISSNET and the diverse resources available. This enables RISS to research and implement new technology quickly to better serve the users, and enables RISS to work directly with information technology staff from other systems to solve problems and explore solutions to new information sharing needs.
As RISS member agencies and partners have become more sophisticated in their use of information technology, the demand for easier but secure access to more resources has intensified. To provide that greater access, RISS helped pioneer the establishment and implementation of standards in the secure sharing of digital identities across security domains. Sometimes referred to as Federated Identity, this technology enables users of trusted partner systems to access information from participating systems without having to logon to each system.
From 2006 to 2010, RISS established information sharing partnerships with members of the National Identity Exchange Federation (NIEF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP), and direct one-on-one federations. Resources that are now available to authorized RISSNET users from NIEF partners include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN); the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC); the VALOR for Blue Website; and the Texas Department of Public Safety’s TXMAP application. Resources available to RISSNET users through the federated partnership with LEEP include the FBI’s National Data Exchange (N-DEx), the Joint Automated Booking System (JABS), Intelink, plus more than 12 other resources. Resources are also available to users of federated partner systems including the FBI LEEP (previously known as Law Enforcement Online) users; Chicago, Illinois, Police Department; and the Nashua, New Hampshire, Police Department.
The information sharing between RISS and its federated partners has, up to this point, taken the form of single sign-on capability. While enabling authorized users secure access to resources on partner systems has greatly advanced secure information sharing, the next step in the evolutionary process is to enable users to securely search information contained within partner resources from a single search screen, eliminating the need to access each partner system.
In 2014, with assistance from the Office of the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment and members of the Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) Working Group, RISS demonstrated the ability to search structured and unstructured data sources from a single search and return only information that the user had permission to view. Permissions were enforced based on user metadata that was securely sent along with the search request. In 2016, HSIN and RISS deployed a production version of this security-trimmed federated search tool that enables authorized users in each security domain to search for structured and unstructured data in all participating domains.
Through partnerships like these and the use of federated technologies, officers save time by seamlessly accessing the critical information they need to help connect with officers across jurisdictions, identify investigative leads, and solve cases, ultimately helping safeguard our communities.
The RISS Directors developed and approved the RISS Adaptive Strategy which provides a roadmap for RISS’s future. The strategy includes an addendum focusing on technology. The Technology Plan includes some exciting new capabilities for RISSNET moving forward, beginning with the deployment of Online Registration, which will enable law enforcement officers to apply for a secure RISSNET user account online. Once the prospective user enters identifying information, the proven identity vetting process begins. Multiple review steps ensure that the user has been properly vetted before an account is established by the appropriate RISS Center. This new process will enable RISS to vet more authorized users in a shorter timeframe and make it easier for the user.
The next phase of the cross-domain, security-trimmed federated search will begin development soon. HSIN and RISS are in the process of improving the secure search functionality by developing a capability that will enable RISS, HSIN, and other SBU partners to search across domains using a search tool that resides in their own domain and securely talks to each partner system. Development of this capability will lay the foundation for many anti-terrorism and criminal justice partners to securely search across multiple domains while providing strict access control enforcement by each information owner.
RISS also has plans to expand the availability and scope of RISSIntel by making it available to more law enforcement agencies through the development of an Intelligence Software as a Service (SaaS). The Intelligence SaaS will exist in RISSNET and provide subscribing agencies with access to collect intelligence information and exchange information with the current and future RISSIntel partners. The RISSIntel SaaS will be available to all vetted law enforcement agencies. As with the current instance of RISSIntel, users of the SaaS version will be able to search all partner systems.
Law enforcement continues to seek effective, innovative, trusted, accessible, and adaptive solutions and services to help them resolve and respond to criminal and terrorist activities. RISSNET has been this trusted and secure network for 20 years that officers have come to rely on. Looking ahead, RISS will continue to move forward with important technology initiatives in the areas of federation and bidirectional system connections, work with partners to promote the use of event deconfliction, and support federal efforts and nationwide partnerships to expand information sharing capabilities and available resources to officers and law enforcement personnel.
ROCIC’s annual homicide conference dates back to 1986, when the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and the Oklahoma City Police Department assisted ROCIC in conducting the “Serial Murders, Unidentified Bodies, and Missing Persons” conference, which drew attendees from 46 states. Mr. Harvey Pratt, one of the conference originators and currently the OSBI police forensics artist, noted that the first conference featured presentations on the serial killer cases (some unsolved at the time) of Ted Bundy, the Green River killer (Gary Ridgway), the I-5 killer (Randall Woodfield), and the BTK killer (Dennis Rader). Also presenting was the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent John Douglas, who cofounded the agency’s Behavioral Science Unit and successfully profiled and tracked down numerous serial killers. The conference was initially held on a biannual basis, but demand quickly turned it into an annual event.
Over the years, numerous renowned experts have presented cases and introduced new investigative techniques at the annual conference, which has been held in various cities throughout the South. Mr. Pratt noted that advances in criminal justice technology—such as automated fingerprint systems, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) profiling, cell phone tracking, the Internet, blood spatter analysis, and forensic anthropology (the “body farm”)—have been highlighted at the annual conferences, greatly helping homicide investigators stay ahead of the curve. Since his first successful case in 1968, Mr. Pratt has produced 4,000 forensic drawings and 200 facial/cranial reconstructions, assisting in excess of 90 successful homicide prosecutions. He served on the ROCIC Board of Directors and as chair of the Board in 1987–88.
Left to right are ROCIC Texas Board Member Chief
Joseph Costa of the DeSoto Police Department; Taya Kyle; ROCIC Executive Director Donna Williams; ROCIC Board Chairman Tommy Loving, Director of the Bowling Green–Warren County, Kentucky, Drug Task Force; and ROCIC Training Coordinator Cindy Purviance.
The inspirational keynote speaker for this year’s training was Taya Kyle, the widow of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who spoke about their life together and the trials and tribulations of military life. Mr. Kyle served four tours of duty in the Iraq War and is credited as one of the most proficient snipers in U.S. military history. After he left the military, Mr. Kyle wrote an autobiography, American Sniper, which was made into a popular movie directed by Clint Eastwood. Tragically, in 2013, Mr. Kyle was murdered by a former serviceman. Investigations determined that the serviceman did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ms. Kyle spoke about many of the topics explored in her new book, American Wife: A Memoir of Love, Service, Faith, and Renewal, and signed copies for attendees. She also spoke about the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, a support group for veterans and their families that she founded in 2014.
Also addressing the conference was Ms. Toni Pickens, founder of Operation Blue Shield, a pro-law enforcement, nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance communication among citizens and public officials and public safety personnel in order to produce safe neighborhoods, community investment, and economic growth. She encouraged those in law enforcement to get involved in community-building projects.
The wide variety of topics presented at the conference included Profiling the Cold Case; the Islam Religion and Honor Killings; the San Bernardino, California, Shootings; and Using Technology to Persuasively Prepare and Present the Homicide Case.
During the training portion of the conference, Detective Albert Tello, Detective Marco Granado, and Sergeant Emil Kokesh with the San Bernardino Police Department presented an in-depth look at the mass shooting that had occurred in their city. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 seriously injured in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. The two shooters, husband and wife, were later killed in a shoot-out with police. Sergeant Kokesh was one of the first officers on the scene. Actual video and audio were presented from the shooting; the presenters were knowledgeable from direct experience in giving conference attendees instructions on what to do and what they learned not to do during active-shooter situations.
Ms. Ghada Wahdan, with the Colorado Information Analysis Center, gave an eye-opening presentation on the Islamic religion and honor killings. Ms. Wahdan was born in Kuwait and lived there for 14 years, and she has extensive knowledge of the Islamic religion. This is the second time that she has presented for ROCIC, and her sessions are always highly informative and successful.
Mr. Patrick Muscat, with the Wayne County, Michigan, Prosecutor’s Office, spoke on cutting-edge software and technology used in preparing and trying complex and high-profile homicide cases. Mr. Muscat provided a visual trial guide to attendees on software that is low-cost and designed specifically for trial prep and presentation.
Retired FBI Agent and author Pete Klismet, one of the first FBI profilers, presented vital information on how to successfully profile suspects when all other leads and clues have been exhausted. He also signed copies of his award-winning books.
The ROCIC 26th Annual Homicide Conference is scheduled for September 17–20, 2017, in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Mr. Alan Rosenhauer, RISS Chief Technology Officer, received an award presented by Mr. Kshemendra Paul, Program Manager for the Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE). Mr. Paul recognized Mr. Rosenhauer for his significant contributions, leadership, and stewardship as the Chair of the Assured Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU)/Controlled Unclassified Information Network Interoperability Working Group.
Mr. Paul said, “Mr. Rosenhauer’s contributions to interoperability have been essential to government-wide efforts in building the ISE and improving nationwide counterterrorism-related security information sharing.”
Mr. Paul also recognized Mr. Rosenhauer for his leadership in advancing Identity and Access Management and security-trimmed federated search. “These will have a long-term impact on information sharing at a national level. Your accomplishments as SBU chair have provided a significant impact on federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement as well as other communities of interest with secure, accurate, and comprehensive information access.” Mr. Paul also said, “The advancements to interagency and state and local law enforcement partners have made significant contributions to the information sharing goals and objectives set for us by the President and the Congress of the United States.”
Mr. Donald Kennedy, Chair of the RISS Directors Association, Inc., stated that “Mr. Rosenhauer has been a true leader in the criminal justice technology field representing RISS. His experience, dedication, innovation, expertise, and success in this field has truly earned him this prestigious honor.”
RISS leadership and staff are extraordinarily proud of Mr. Rosenhauer and congratulate him for his hard work, dedication, and commitment to RISS and for advancing information sharing solutions that directly benefit our law enforcement constituents.
The Western States Information Network (WSIN) recently partnered with the Contra Costa County (CCC) District Attorney’s Office to support a drug-sniffing K-9. The CCC District Attorney’s Office supervises a large antiviolence/drugs task force composed of local and federal law enforcement.
WSIN previously supported K-9s for several law enforcement agencies in California. The K-9 working with the Parcel Task Force (PACNET) operated by the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, in the Orange Regional Office, proved to be particularly successful in seizing narcotics and U.S. currency. In 2010 alone, the PACNET K-9 aided in the seizure of $4.5 million, primarily working airports, train stations, and United Parcel Service, Federal Express, and United States Postal Service facilities. The PACNET dog retired honorably in 2012.
WSIN is proud to announce its partnership with the Safe Streets Task Force of the CCC District Attorney’s Office for the drug-sniffing K-9 project and associated training for the K-9 handler. In addition, WSIN is providing a money counter, with the required equipment, and task force training on the proper handling of seized money. The money counter serves dual purposes, since it will count and record the seized money and input the serial numbers of the bills in the RISS Money Counter Project database.
Mark A. Peterson, District Attorney for the CCC, stated, “We are anxiously awaiting our first drug-sniffing K-9 as well as the new state-of-the-art money counter machine. Drug interdiction is a large part in investigating the ongoing gang and drug violence here in CCC, and we are excited to have the opportunity to work closely with WSIN in this new endeavor. There is no doubt the use of this K-9 program will be a huge asset to this organization and allow us to collect evidence and monies of an evidentiary value needed to help in these efforts. A thank-you to WSIN Law Enforcement Coordinator Jim Parker for working so closely with us to accomplish this and for all the support we have been receiving from WSIN since our inception. WSIN is a true asset.”
The CCC District Attorney’s Office has selected the dog handler, and he will take possession of the dog in November 2016. Adlerhorst International will be responsible for the training of the dog handler and the K-9, which takes approximately five weeks, before going into service.WSIN is excited to share this service with the CCC District Attorney’s Office and is looking forward to the possibility of other law enforcement agencies utilizing this service.
MAGLOCLEN surveillance equipment was utilized by the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Police Department Narcotics Unit, along with federal authorities in Philadelphia and Chicago, Illinois, in an investigation targeting a narcotics/money laundering operation. The equipment was used to aid in identifying the suspects and gain probable cause for a search warrant. Law enforcement personnel conducted a buy/bust with the suspects, which resulted in the arrests of two individuals in Philadelphia and the confiscation of 10 kilos of cocaine, valued at $1,000,000; $100,000 in U.S. currency; and one vehicle. The suspects and evidence were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations authorities.
The Greene County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Office contacted MOCIC for assistance in a high-profile case that began as a missing persons investigation involving the disappearance of two victims. Bleach had been poured inside a portion of the home to hide any signs of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) evidence and to throw off law enforcement officers. A security system had also been damaged. Several months later, the victims’ skeletal remains were discovered, with evidence that each died of gunshot wounds to the head. More than 20 law enforcement and criminal justice agencies participated in the investigation and prosecution, which lasted from 2011 (when the victims disappeared) until 2016 (when the last defendant was convicted). Investigators began using MOCIC services just one day after the victims disappeared, including specialized equipment, intelligence research, and digital forensics, in addition to multiple analytical services that ranged from organizational assistance to the preparation of a multitude of charts and other investigative resources. The investigation resulted in the indictments of five individuals. Three defendants pled guilty to a variety of charges, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, armed criminal action, and felonious restraint. A fourth defendant was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder. The final defendant was convicted on two counts of second-degree murder. A majority of the defendants received life sentences, some without the possibility of parole.
Detectives with the Springfield, Massachusetts, Police Department Major Crimes Unit began investigating multiple residential burglaries in which the method of entry had been via basement windows. In the majority of these incidents, jewelry and electronics had been stolen from elderly victims. During the course of the investigation, one of the detectives noticed a pattern of suspicious activity while reviewing the RISS Property and Recovery Tracking System (RISSProp). Further investigation determined that these suspicious transactions in RISSProp coincided with the dates of almost all of the reported burglaries. Based on the information in RISSProp, investigators located one of the individuals who had sold the items at a local pawnshop. During an interview in which he was shown a list of his RISSProp transactions, he implicated himself and another subject in the burglaries and sale of stolen property. Both subjects, ages 29 and 30, were arrested for numerous felonies and are awaiting trial. The investigative lead developed from RISSProp resulted in 11 residential burglaries being solved and the recovery of approximately $20,000 in stolen property.
The Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) used RISSafe to ensure the safety of officers during an arrest of two suspects for delivering 27 pounds of methamphetamine during a controlled buy/bust operation in Phoenix, Arizona. The drugs were valued at approximately $210,000. The MCSO also seized one vehicle, with an estimated value of $10,000, and $600 in U.S. currency.
During the foot pursuit of a fleeing suspect following a traffic stop, a Gulfport, Mississippi, Police Department officer was shot twice at close range with a handgun. In spite of his serious wounds, the officer managed to disarm the assailant and restrain him until other officers arrived. Fortunately, the police officer survived the assault. The suspect was taken into custody and charged with the aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer. In preparing the case for prosecution, the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office submitted audio and video recordings to the ROCIC audio/video staff for enhancement. As a result, the prosecution built such a strong case that the defendant pled guilty before going to trial. The defendant in this case was sentenced to the maximum term of 30 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
The Portland, Oregon, Police Bureau High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Interdiction Team (HIT) received a tip that a subject was transporting quantities of illegal drugs from California into the Portland area by car. HIT had information about an address where the subject was staying and set up surveillance in the area. Officers set up a deal to purchase from the suspect. A California-plated vehicle was seen leaving the area, and officers attempted to follow the vehicle but were unable to maintain surveillance. The license number was queried through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)/California Department of Motor Vehicles, and the car was determined to be registered to a 65-year-old male, who did not fit the description of the suspect. The plate was queried through RISSIntel and was found to be connected to a younger male who was involved in a Clackamas County, Oregon, Interagency Task Force (CCITF) case. That individual had a warrant for his arrest related to that case. HIT contacted the CCITF and explained the situation. Since the address was in Clackamas County, a deputy from that county—along with a patrol dog—was sent to make the stop on the vehicle. After the stop was made, several pounds of meth and heroin were located, as well as two handguns, ammunition, and parts of a rifle.
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