RISS Insider
Winter 2015

FY2014 RISS in Review

Throughout FY2014, RISS continued to demonstrate its value and benefit to law enforcement over and over again, and demand for its services and resources continued to increase. Agencies and programs at all levels continued to turn to RISS for support, to leverage its trusted infrastructure, and to utilize its officer safety event deconfliction system, known as RISSafe. These are powerful and valuable tools that law enforcement officers rely on to help solve cases, apprehend offenders, and stay safe. Many RISS member agencies and partners continued to face reductions in funding and resources. RISS’s funding has also been impacted; however, RISS continued to be a leader and innovator in technology, information sharing, officer safety, and investigative support.

RISS’s partners also recognized its value and partnered with RISS to utilize its resources in an effective manner. Examples include:

  • Completion of bidirectional connectivity between RISSNET and the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN).
  • Connectivity of multiple fusion centers to the RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel).
  • Expansion of Federated Identity and single sign-on solutions. Almost 25,000 users from trusted partner systems are using Federated Identity to access RISSNET resources.
  • Partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP) to provide users seamless access to participating partner systems, such as the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx).
  • Enhancements to the Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCU) Secure Hosted Website, accessible via RISSNET. This site has experienced more than a 70 percent increase in users over the last year.
  • Connectivity between RISSafe and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas’ (HIDTA) Case Explorer. Connectivity among the three nationally recognized systems-RISSafe, Case Explorer, and SAFETNet-is scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2015.

RISS provides diverse and specialized investigative services and resources to help identify, apprehend, and prosecute criminals. Demand for RISS services continued to increase, as indicated by the statistics listed below. Agencies and officers increased their usage of RISS’s critical resources to aid their efforts. Some of RISS’s accomplishments in FY2014 included the following:

  • Developed 29,152 analytical products.
  • Loaned 3,723 pieces of specialized equipment.
  • Responded to 131,985 requests for research and technical assistance.
  • Sponsored or cosponsored 964 training opportunities and helped train 44,996 individuals.
  • Enabled users to conduct 6,073,680 inquiries to RISS resources.
  • RISS member agencies grew to 8,930, and RISSNET authorized users increased to 118,819.
  • Supported hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers and criminal justice professionals.
  • Served agencies of all sizes, from the small departments to agencies employing hundreds of officers and agents.
  • Increased the number of available investigative records to more than 40 million.
  • 83 systems are connected or pending connection to RISSNET.
  • There are more than 350 RISS and partner resources available via RISSNET.
  • RISSIntel provides for a real-time, online federated search of more than 35 RISS and partner intelligence databases.
  • There are more than 30 RISS Secure Hosted Websites available for partners to securely share information and materials.
  • RISSafe reached a milestone in December 2014 with one million operations being entered into the system. For additional information on this milestone, see the RISSafe article in this edition of the RISS Insider.
  • Increased the number of operational RISSafe Watch Centers. Currently, 27 RISSafe Watch Centers are operational, 21 of which are operated by organizations other than RISS, such as state agencies, fusion centers, and HIDTAs.

Over the last ten years, officers leveraging RISS’s services arrested almost 47,000 offenders and seized more than $600 million in narcotics, property, and currency. Every day, officers use RISS to help detect, deter, prevent, and respond to crime problems. Without these services, narcotics, stolen property, and other contraband, as well as violent offenders, gang members, and other criminals, might still be on our streets. Visit www.riss.net/Impact to view shared successes and quotes submitted by criminal justice agencies, officers, and other partners on how RISS impacted their investigative efforts.

RISS also developed its Adaptive Strategy and identified goals to serve as the foundation for moving forward. For additional information on this effort, see the RISS Adaptive Strategy article in this edition of the RISS Insider.

Throughout FY2014, the RISS Centers continued to see increased demand for center-specific investigative systems, such as the RISS Property and Recovery Tracking System (RISSProp), the Cold Case Locator System, the Targeted Violence Information Sharing System (TAVISS), and the Pseudoephedrine Violator Tracking System (PVTS). In addition, in the WSIN region, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) approached the WSIN RISS Center to create a secure intelligence database customized for Washington’s needs. The WAGang database was developed based on the foundation of RISSIntel; however, it has been customized based on features requested by Washington. This is an excellent example of leveraging proven technology to solve a field-based need. For additional information on this effort, see the WAGang article in this edition of the RISS Insider.

In the coming year, RISS will work to build on the success it has achieved and move forward with important field-based and technology initiatives in the areas of information exchanges, bidirectional connectivity, secure single sign-on access to resources, and officer and citizen safety. RISS has already been approached by partners to aid in a variety of efforts to help increase information sharing, training, and analysis in the areas of human trafficking, cybercrime, active shooters, school violence, prescription drug monitoring, and property and loss prevention. Please visit www.riss.net for more information on the RISS Program.

RISS Adaptive Strategy

The RISS National Policy Group (RNPG) is composed of the six RISS Center Directors and the chair of each center’s policy board or his or her designee. The RNPG is responsible for strategic planning, resolution of operational issues, advancement of information sharing, and decision making affecting the six RISS Centers, the nationwide organization, RISS technology initiatives, and service delivery.

In FY2014, the RNPG formed a committee, chaired by a RISS Director, to develop the RISS Adaptive Strategy. RISS’s Adaptive Strategy focuses on and leverages its ability to quickly respond to the changing needs of our law enforcement and criminal justice communities.

In the development of the RISS Adaptive Strategy, a trend analysis and a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis were conducted. Impacting factors that were identified included the increased demand for RISS services, the reduction in funding for law enforcement agencies, and increases in crime, mobile criminals, emerging criminal elements, and the use of technology to conduct criminal activities. Other impacting factors included the level of RISS funding, the constant evolution of technology, and the continued need to maintain well-qualified staff. These factors may impact RISS; however, the adaptive approach built into the RISS strategy will enable RISS leadership to continuously address needs and rapidly adjust to those factors.

As part of the committee’s work, RISS reviewed and refined its vision and mission statements as follows:

Vision: Provide excellence in secure and effective information sharing and investigative support services to the criminal justice community in combating crime, protecting officers, and keeping communities safe.

Mission: Assist local, state, federal, and tribal criminal justice partners by providing adaptive solutions and services that facilitate information sharing, support criminal investigations, and promote officer safety.

The RISS Adaptive Strategy approach combines a traditional strategic plan containing goals, objectives, and performance metrics AND applies an ongoing adaptive evaluation process to those components to address rapidly changing environments, security threats, resources, budgets, and changes in technology.

The committee also identified and recommended the following six primary goals in the RISS Adaptive Strategy:

  1. Information Sharing – Facilitate and Expand Information Sharing Solutions and Services for Criminal Justice Agencies
  2. Investigative Support – Provide Services to Assist Criminal Justice Agencies in Successfully Resolving Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions
  3. Officer Safety – Provide Deconfliction Services, Resources, and Training to Enhance Officer Safety
  4. Partnerships – Build and Foster Partnerships to Enhance Criminal Justice Information Sharing Efforts
  5. Professional Excellence – Operate and Manage the RISS Nationwide Enterprise, the Six RISS Centers, and the RISS Technology Support Center (RTSC) in an Effective Manner
  6. Advanced Technology – Provide Innovative, Integrated Technology Solutions

RISS will review its goals and objectives at least annually to determine whether those goals and objectives continue to support the RISS vision and mission and are still valid. Objectives may be added and/or eliminated as the RISS operational environment changes, but all objectives will be tied to an approved RISS goal. This process will also be employed to validate/approve new initiatives or requests for new RISS services to determine whether they meet the vision, mission, and goals of the RISS Program.

RISS is instrumental in providing seamless access to critical information, intelligence, and investigative resources. RISS services and programs directly and positively impact the criminal justice community’s ability to successfully resolve investigations and prosecute criminals. The RISS Adaptive Strategy provides RISS with the flexibility to adapt to a changing environment while remaining steadfast in its effort to serve the criminal justice community, help fight crime, and ensure the safety of officers and communities.

Visit www.riss.net and www.riss.net/Impact for more information about the RISS Program.

WAGang: Washington’s Unique Approach to Building a Statewide Gang Database

The Washington State Gang database (WAGang) is a collaborative effort to create a single gang database that meets the needs of Washington’s law enforcement agencies based on RISS technology and the network. A standardized gang classification criterion is utilized to determine that each suspect meets Washington’s legal definition of a validated gang member prior to entry into the database. The database is administered by authorized users (called Gatekeepers) who are highly trained and experienced gang professionals with regional responsibility throughout the state. Only Gatekeepers can enter, edit, and delete records within the WAGang database. This process ensures that only high-quality, current, and detailed records that meet the established criteria, are retained. This creates a high degree of confidence in the information viewed by officers. The Gatekeepers work on behalf of multiple agencies and officers in their region, providing oversight and review of each record’s creation and maintenance.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) approached the WSIN RISS Center to create a secure intelligence database customized for Washington’s needs. RISS operates the RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel), which is utilized by law enforcement at all levels of government nationwide. The WAGang database was developed based on the foundation of RISSIntel; however, it has been customized based on features requested by Washington. The database utilizes best practices, strictly following federal and state laws to ensure that the civil liberties of Washington’s citizens are guarded, while providing an investigative tool for law enforcement to address criminal gangs across Washington.

The WAGang database is searchable by authorized law enforcement within Washington and across the nation on the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET). There is no cost to law enforcement; budget restrictions will not preclude any agency from participating.

A RISS Secure Hosted Website has also been established that works in conjunction with the database, hosting general gang information and classification documents on each gang and memorializing why they meet the definition of a criminal street gang.

The first group of Gatekeepers was trained in November 2014 in Kennewick, Washington. This test group was utilized to fully develop the training and to further establish policy and procedures. Two more training sessions were held in January 2015 that trained more than 70 Gatekeepers statewide. Bulk uploading of records will be utilized to the extent possible to reduce the workload necessary to populate the database. Each of these records will be reviewed by a Gatekeeper to ensure it is current, relevant, and accurate.

Uniformed patrol officers are anticipated to be the primary users of the WAGang database. In an effort to make access as user-friendly as possible, RISS has developed a unique type of single-factor (username and password) WAGang access, restricting these officers’ access to only the WAGang resources. Washington agencies will have the option, based on an officer’s assignment, to grant this limited access or to provide full RISS access, which provides hundreds of additional resources and capabilities.

If you have questions or would like additional information regarding WAGang, please contact Mr. Rich Wiley, WSIN Law Enforcement Coordinator, at rwiley@wsin.riss.net.

RISSafe Reaches One Millionth Operation Milestone

The RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System, known as RISSafe, was developed by RISS to help agencies safeguard their officers and citizens, maintain the integrity of investigations, enhance information sharing, and increase collaboration. RISS has been providing RISSafe to law enforcement since 2008. Since then, RISSafe has expanded across the country and has been institutionalized in many agency operations and policies. Thousands of men and women working undercover operations, engaging in high-risk situations, and working other investigative events rely on RISSafe to help ensure their safety and the safety of others and make investigative connections that otherwise may not be identified.

Often investigative efforts create a situation in which agency personnel work in close proximity to each other. In other situations, agencies or officers may be investigating the same subject at the same time. In either case, agencies or officers may unintentionally interfere with each other’s investigations, causing investigative efforts to be disrupted or, worse, officers or citizens to be hurt or killed. RISSafe stores and maintains data on planned law enforcement investigative and other events submitted for inclusion (e.g., raids, controlled buys, surveillances), as well as appropriate noninvestigative events, and identifies and alerts affected agencies or officers of potential conflicts impacting law enforcement efforts. RISSafe is accessible and monitored on a 24/7/365 basis and is available to all law enforcement agencies.

Currently, 27 RISSafe Watch Centers are operational, 21 of which are operated by organizations other than RISS, such as state agencies, fusion centers, and HIDTAs. These organizations have invested resources to support this critical officer safety program. Multiple agencies have established internal policies requiring their officers to use RISSafe. RISSafe Mobile enables officers to access RISSafe from their mobile devices.

RISSafe reached a milestone in December 2014 when a RMIN Center member agency, the
U.S. Marshals Service in Arizona, submitted the one millionth operation into the system. The event submitted was for an arrest warrant as part of Operation Grinch Stopper III, an annual sweep conducted by the U.S. Marshals Service that resulted in 197 arrests in Arizona.

It is difficult to place a monetary value on the lives that RISSafe has helped save. Agencies and officers recognize the value of event deconfliction and RISSafe. Thousands of agencies and officers use RISSafe every day. On behalf of the RISS Directors, policy board members, and staff, we congratulate the U.S. Marshals Service for helping us make history and we thank you for the trust you have shown in the RISSafe system. To learn more about RISSafe, visit www.riss.net/Resources/RISSafe.

Shared Successes

MAGLOCLEN surveillance equipment was utilized by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) in a joint narcotics investigation involving the manufacture and distribution of heroin in Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex Counties in New Jersey. The investigation involved court-approved wire taps, confidential informants, and surveillances that were recorded and documented with the equipment. The investigation culminated with the arrests of 14 suspects and the confiscation of 12.35 ounces of unpackaged heroin, valued at $21,000, and 350 bricks of street-packed heroin, valued at $525,000. The suspects were charged under a federal indictment, including conspiracy to distribute heroin.

The Office of the Kansas State Fire Marshal requested the assistance of MOCIC in its investigation into a rash of grass fires. Kansas State Fire Marshal investigators worked with multiple agencies to investigate approximately 15 to 20 grass and brush fires, as well as a few structure fires, that investigators believed to be arson fires. A suspect was identified. The MOCIC intelligence research staff obtained information about the suspect that provided assistance throughout the investigation. Investigators used the RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe) to deconflict surveillance operations and the serving of warrants. In addition, investigators borrowed MOCIC specialized investigative equipment to assist in tracking the suspect, who ultimately set several more fires. The suspect confessed to setting more than 60 fires. Authorities credited MOCIC services with helping them to bring the investigation to a successful conclusion, as well protect lives and property.

The Boston, Massachusetts, Police Department and the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, District Attorney’s Office requested analytical assistance from NESPIN with telephone records. The investigation surrounded the shooting deaths of three individuals. In support of the investigation, the NESPIN analytical staff created 25 maps of telephone activity before and after the homicides. The NESPIN staff testified in Suffolk County Superior Court. The jury convicted the defendant on all charges in the unprovoked murders of the three individuals-three counts of first-degree murder-finding that he acted with extreme atrocity or cruelty with deliberate premeditation and armed assault with intent to murder for shooting at a fourth occupant in the vehicle. The defendant was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole.

The Maricopa County, Arizona, Attorney’s Office requested assistance from the RMIN intelligence research staff with a multimillion-dollar money laundering and fraud criminal investigation. The primary suspect had a prior conviction for fraud. Through RMIN’s assistance, the investigator was able to identify at least one bank account holding $8,000,000 involved in the money laundering. The Maricopa County Attorney’s office is preparing for a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
(RICO) forfeiture action on the individuals and the enterprise. This case is ongoing but has been reported by open source news media.

The ROCIC intelligence research staff connected West Palm Beach, Florida, police investigators with authorities in the New York City Police Department and identified a convicted sex offender who had violently stabbed an adult male babysitter dozens of times in West Palm Beach. The victim, who survived the attack, told police the assailant’s name. The assailant was known by the mother of the small children the victim was watching at the time. The mother had a photo in her cell phone of the suspect. After ROCIC made the connection with New York City Police authorities, the photo was sent to investigators for a facial recognition search. Within 45 minutes, West Palm Beach was notified of a match. The suspect was a registered sex offender in New York, as the result of a 2004 conviction for attempted rape. The West Palm Beach investigators located the suspect, arrested him, and charged him with attempted murder and failing to register in Florida as a sex offender.

WSIN was contacted by a Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic examiner who was assigned to the Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records (CRR) Unit in Quantico, Virginia, which analyzes documents of drug distribution to determine the drug being distributed, along with other analytical data. The CRR Unit had received records from a Sacramento, California, distribution case involving gram quantities of an unidentified substance that included a document written in Spanish. However, certain notations on the document led the CRR Unit to believe that it was a record of hash oil distribution. The CRR contacted WSIN for assistance in interpreting the document. The examiner wanted to contact someone who had specific knowledge about this subject. The WSIN Director assigned the request to a WSIN Law Enforcement Coordinator (LEC) with expertise on Mexican drug trafficking organizations. The LEC analyzed the document and contacted various experts who were currently investigating a large trafficking organization in that area. Upon review, the LEC believed that the document pertained to methamphetamine. The measurement amounts (grams) and notations indicated it was a pay-owe sheet pertaining to an ice recovery lab. The LEC reviewed the findings with the examiner and forwarded photographs from a recently seized laboratory depicting items detailed in the document.