RISS Enters Partnership With Nlets—The International Justice and Public Safety Network
By Julie Humphrey, RISS Technology Support Center (RTSC) Manager
Law enforcement officers will be connected better than ever by virtue of a partnership agreement between RISS and Nlets. The two long-time information sharing organizations are partnering to provide Nlets system resources to RISS users through the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET). The agreement between RISS and Nlets is final, and the work to complete the federated connection is currently under way.
When the federation connection is complete, officers using a single sign-in to the RISSNET Portal will not only be able to access the diverse set of resources currently available from RISS, they will also be able to utilize Nlets’ array of law enforcement information resources. This partnership aims to improve public safety and foster interoperability among law enforcement and criminal justice agencies.
For more than 40 years, both RISS and Nlets have had a long history of providing law enforcement information resources to agencies and officers. Nlets provides a wide range of information, including standard driver’s license and vehicle queries, criminal history, and INTERPOL information. As an international criminal justice and public safety information sharing hub, Nlets serves its members at the local, state, federal, and international levels. Visit www.nlets.org for more information.
This partnership furthers the stated goals of each organization in aiding law enforcement’s ability to successfully resolve criminal investigations and prosecute offenders, while maintaining the strictest level of privacy and security protocols.
This resource sharing is possible through a federated identity interaction between RISSNET and Nlets. RISS will make use of its federated identity infrastructure and use industry standard protocols as the Identity Provider. Nlets, as the Service Provider, will provide Nlets information resources through the secure connection for RISSNET users.
For additional information on RISS and RISSNET resources, visit www.riss.net.
RISS Expands Sign-In Capabilities With One-Time Passcodes (OTP)
By Julie H. Humphrey, RISS Technology Support Center (RTSC) Manager
A New York City police officer just used his smartwatch to receive his one-time passcode (OTP) and sign in to his RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET) account.
Officers across the nation can use this advanced capability, now that RISS has made signing in to RISSNET from anywhere with any device much easier through the use of one-time passcodes. The OTP enables an officer to sign in to RISS’s highly secure resources with a cell phone, a tablet, or any mobile or desktop computer.
Officers who need access to only single-factor resources, such as the RISSNET Portal or the RISS Automated Trusted Information Exchange (ATIX), sign in with just their user ID and password. To access resources requiring two factors, officers may be sent a OTP by text or e-mail and can receive it on their mobile devices or computer. OTP makes the sign-in process more flexible for any user who needs access to dual-factor RISSNET resources.
When a RISSNET user requests access to a dual-factor resource, such as the RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe), or partner resources, such as the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx), the system prompts the user to choose one of three second-factor authentication methods: (1) digital certificate, (2) OTP via e-mail, or (3) OTP via text message. Whichever OTP method is chosen, the system sends a unique, short-lived passcode through the selected method. The user then retrieves that passcode from his or her preselected choice and enters it into the passcode field in the system. Once validated, the user is permitted to access the resource. The passcode cannot be used again, and it will expire if unused after a few minutes, making the process very secure. A new code is issued with each sign-in.
This industry-standard sign-in method ensures that RISS maintains its high-security standards while offering ease of access to all of its users. RISSNET users are already noticing how fast and easy the new sign-in process is. It also gives officers the ability to sign in to RISSNET using any device—a level of freedom that is very welcome by officers using the new sign-in method.
To take advantage of the OTP, users must have their e-mail address and preferred text-enabled mobile phone number entered into RISS’s system through their in-region RISS Center.
This update is part of a larger RISS effort of improving the experience for users of RISSNET information resources through the development and deployment of the multiphased Account Access and Authorization Administration (A4) Project. When completed, the A4 Project will provide quicker access to information resources while strengthening access security. The A4 Project will also enable prospective users to apply for RISSNET accounts online and current users to manage some of their own profile information.
For additional information on RISS and RISSNET resources, visit www.riss.net.
Sex Trafficking – Prosecuting Pimps, Protecting Victims
By Jeff Basterrechea
This article is an excerpt from a special report published by RMIN in December 2015. It focuses on how small, rural law enforcement agencies can help identify, investigate, and prosecute cases of sex trafficking. The full report is available to RISS member agencies by logging onto the RISSNET Portal.
This report was authored by
Jeff Basterrechea, RMIN’s Law Enforcement Information Coordinator in Idaho.
Mr. Basterrechea retired from the Boise Police Department after a 28-year career with the agency.
Contributors to the report included Detective
Mike Miraglia, Boise Police Department, and Lynita Hinsch, Computer Forensic Analyst, RMIN.
When I started in law enforcement 30 years ago, prostitution was deemed a victimless crime. Some in society felt that what two consenting adults did behind closed doors was their own business—out of sight, out of mind. Hence, prostitution was only a misdemeanor offense, usually punishable by a fine or jail for a second offense. Even in Idaho, it took a third conviction to amount to a felony, and no prosecutor was going to exhaust resources trying to convict a prostitute on a felony. Therefore, they usually pled it down, which a prostitute would accept. Case closed.
Law enforcement seldom looked for the pimp, because back then, pimps were only a big-city problem. In most rural states, prostitutes were local women. In Boise, Idaho, if you wanted to hire a prostitute, you went to the yellow pages under “escort” or you drove to your local massage parlor or bathhouse. The majority of the prostitutes were local women who drifted in and out of prostitution.
Today, this is no longer the case. With the advent of the Internet and major hotel chains moving to more rural communities, prostitution is becoming more of an issue for rural communities. Today, those involved in prostitution use the Internet to research communities to determine what type of accommodations are available to support their criminal acts, and they use social media to make contact with prospective clients before they get to your town.
Most importantly, law enforcement’s understanding of the issue itself has changed. Many cases of prostitution are now better understood as forms of human trafficking. Stemming from an international movement born in the 1990s, our understanding has evolved to recognize that commercial sex trafficking is at the root of many cases of prostitution.
We as law enforcement now understand that, for many, prostitution is a last choice . . . and for some, there never was any choice at all.
Because of this, law enforcement needs to think outside the box and educate their community on the real dangers of prostitution and the issues that victims of human trafficking face. This is what happened three years ago when I was the sergeant of the Gang Unit for the Boise Police Department. A detective under my command was assisting our Vice and Narcotics Unit with a male who had been arrested with a female for prostitution. The detective discovered that the male was a documented gang member from California and was prostituting females for a major street gang from that region.
Fortunately, the Boise Police Department had the resources, including a victim/witness coordinator, to assist the victim of human trafficking to get the necessary help she needed. This victim became a witness against the gang member, who was convicted of accepting the earnings from prostitution and was sentenced to two years in prison. Since then, he has been charged in six cases of human trafficking, including one that involved a major human trafficking ring comprising several different criminal gangs that a regional task force developed into a large racketeering case.
Lesson learned: Don’t look at prostitution as a victimless crime. Look further to see whether there is a human trafficking violation. Often, this is the case when prostitutes from out of state are traveling with a male or female companion.
If you look below the surface, it is very likely that you will be saving a trafficking victim instead of simply prosecuting a suspect on misdemeanor charges.
Using Investigative Resources to Combat Gang Activity
Law enforcement agencies work diligently to disrupt and disband gangs, yet violence continues to plague our communities. Many gangs are sophisticated and well-organized and use violence to control neighborhoods and boost their illegal moneymaking activities, which include robbery, drug and gun trafficking, fraud, extortion, and prostitution rings.
According to the National Youth Gang Survey (1996–2012), based on estimates provided by law enforcement, more than 90 percent of cities with populations larger than 50,000, 65 percent of suburban counties, and 46 percent of small cities have consistently reported gang activity. The National Gang Center (NGC) assists policymakers, researchers, criminal justice practitioners, direct service providers, and other community members in their efforts to reduce gang involvement and street gang activity. Among its resources, the NGC offers an online Street Gang Intelligence Course and on-site gang investigations training for law enforcement. For additional information regarding the NGC, its services, and resources, visit www.nationalgangcenter.gov.
Gang investigators can leverage available resources through the RISS Program that can help identify, apprehend, and prosecute gangs and their members. RISS offers important information sharing and intelligence resources via the RISS Secure Cloud (RISSNET), as well as numerous and diverse investigative support services and officer safety resources. One important resource offered by RISS is the RISS National Gang Program (RISSGang). RISSGang was developed and implemented as a coordinated effort of the six RISS Centers and gang investigators from their member agencies throughout the country.
RISSGang consists of the RISS National Gang Intelligence Database, the RISSGang Website, and informational resources. The database provides law enforcement agencies with access to gang records, including targets, organizations, weapons, locations, and vehicles, as well as visual imagery of gang members, gang symbols, and gang graffiti. The RISSGang Website provides a vast amount of resources and information. Gang-specific news, documents, and publications are organized into topical areas such as motorcycle gangs, drug gangs, street gangs, prison gangs, tattoos, hand signs, colors, and graffiti. Below is an example of a shared success from a gang investigator that used the RISSGang Website:
A gang investigator at the Glynn County, Georgia, Police Department stated that he often uses the resources available at the RISSGang Website and database to enhance investigations through the use of gang-culture intelligence found online. He used the website to identify several different types of hand signs, graffiti, and other symbols, which have linked subjects to active gangs in his jurisdiction. Due to the availability of RISS resources, he has been able to open several cases on gang members that are now being actively prosecuted under the Georgia Street Gang and Terrorism Act.
RISSGang offers secure collaboration tools that enable authorized users to post and share questions and case information. Users are also encouraged to contribute material, publications, and other information to the website. Users can access training information and a comprehensive dictionary of gang-related terms.
RISS provides access to the RISSGang Program resources to all criminal justice agencies without the requirement to establish RISS membership.
The RISS interface between the RISS Criminal Intelligence Database (RISSIntel); RISSGang; CalGang; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) GangNet; and several other state and local gang databases provides authorized users with real-time, online federated search capabilities.
In addition to RISSGang, RISS also offers a full suite of investigative support services that can assist with gang investigations. Using these services enables gang investigators to:
Simultaneously query multiple intelligence databases connected via RISSNET.
Retrieve information from specialized and investigative databases and resources.
Utilize analytical products, such as crime scene diagrams, link-analysis charts, digital forensics, and audio/video services, to aid in arresting and prosecuting gang offenders.
Solicit assistance from research staff to help sift through information, conduct research, and help identify the missing piece of the puzzle.
Borrow specialized surveillance and investigative equipment, such as global positioning systems, customized cameras, and recording devices.
Post information, engage in multijurisdictional secure discussions, and connect with officers across jurisdictions.
Receive training on new and emerging topics, such as “An Introduction to Gang Identification and Investigations,” “Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs,” “Gangs 101,” and “Advanced Gang Investigations,” and access online training and videos.
Access critical gang publications and law enforcement-sensitive briefings.
Use the RISSLeads Investigative Website to establish a secure discussion board on various topics, including gangs. Training and other events are also posted.
Use the nationwide RISS Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System (RISSafe) to ensure that officers remain safe. RISSafe stores and maintains data on planned law enforcement events with the goal of identifying and alerting affected agencies and officers of potential conflicts impacting law enforcement efforts.
Access the RISS Officer Safety Website to obtain trusted officer safety-related information and materials.
Establish a secure hosted website to securely share information and materials. There are more than 30 secure hosted websites, including the Midwest Gang Investigators Association, the Tennessee Gang Investigators Association, and the Felony Lane gang.
Often gang-related crimes have a nexus to other crimes, including homicide and drug trafficking. The resources and services offered by RISS are crucial to continue to ensure that officers and agencies can solve these crimes. Below is an example of how RISS services were used to solve a gang investigation.
MAGLOCLEN surveillance equipment was utilized by the New Jersey Office of the
New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), working in conjunction with the DEA (Newark, New Jersey, Office); the Essex County, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office; the Essex County Sheriff’s Office; and the Newark Police Department, in an investigation involving alleged members of the Grape Street Crips. The Grape Street Crips is a street gang allegedly responsible for violence and drug trafficking in the northern New Jersey area. The investigation utilized court-ordered wiretaps and recorded surveillances to identify the key members of the organization. The information received was presented to a grand jury and, as a result of the grand jury’s findings, agents conducted three waves of arrests, which resulted in 50 alleged members of the organization being brought in; 21 members were previously arrested. The suspects were charged with 14 federal counts, including conspiracy, corrupt organization, weapons, and drug offenses.
Gang investigators from across the nation rely on RISS for these and many other services. RISS’s support and resources directly help officers detect, deter, prevent, and respond to crime problems. For more information about RISS, please visit www.riss.net. For additional gang-related shared successes and others submitted by law enforcement agencies utilizing RISS services, RISS performance metrics, and examples of how RISS supports law enforcement, visit www.riss.net/Impact.
Enhanced Video Identifies Suspect in Armed Robbery Investigation
A video enhancement completed for the Delaware County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney’s Office by MAGLOCLEN assisted in an armed robbery investigation. The video contained surveillance footage of a suspect wanted for two armed robberies, one that occurred in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, and the other, a home invasion that occurred in Upper Merion, Pennsylvania. As a result of the enhanced video, a suspect was identified and later arrested. The enhancement was used by prosecutors during the trial and aided in securing a guilty verdict against the suspect, who was sentenced to 35 to 70 years in prison.
Analytical Products Instrumental in Second-Degree Murder Conviction
The Ames, Iowa, Police Department contacted MOCIC for assistance in a homicide investigation. The victim had died from a single gunshot wound to his face. The suspect claimed that the victim accidentally shot himself while handling a loaded weapon. Authorities originally ruled the death an accident but subsequently charged the suspect with first-degree murder. The MOCIC intelligence research staff obtained telephone number information, and the MOCIC analytical staff prepared charts related to phone calls made by the suspect, including a timeline that was admitted into evidence at the trial. The MOCIC staff also prepared a floor plan of the crime scene, with integrated photos for trial. The suspect was convicted of second-degree murder. The investigating officer indicated that the work of the MOCIC staff was instrumental in obtaining the conviction.
Use of Surveillance Van Leads to Drug Seizures in Heroin Distribution Investigation
The Milford, Massachusetts, Police Department borrowed a NESPIN surveillance van that contributed to the success of a heroin distribution investigation. The surveillance van assisted investigators in monitoring numerous drug transactions from suspects making hand-to-hand buys. The investigation culminated with the arrests of 11 individuals on various felony narcotics violations, including trafficking in heroin, distributing Class A, possession of Class A, and conspiracy to violate drug laws. These individuals were also charged with possession of Class D, Class B, and Class E. Items seized included $7,752 in U.S. currency; four vehicles, valued at $25,000; seven cell phones, valued at $2,750; 10 grams of cocaine, valued at $1,000; 200 grams of heroin, valued at $20,000; ½ ounce of marijuana, valued at $45; and miscellaneous drug scales and packaging material. Other agencies assisted with the investigation, including the Bellingham, Massachusetts, Police Department; the Hopkinton, Massachusetts, Police Department; the Hopedale, Massachusetts, Police Department; the Northbridge, Massachusetts, Police Department; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas.
Contractor Scam Investigation Results in Arrest of Suspect
Investigators with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and the Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department requested assistance from the RMIN intelligence research staff in a case involving a family of “Travelers” who were taking advantage of predominantly elderly victims through contractor scams for fraudulent home repairs. The RMIN staff provided research on the individuals and suggested and arranged a meeting with the investigators and the Internal Revenue Service for probable tax evasion. The primary suspects illegally obtained more than $140,000 from four victims over a two-year period. The investigation led to the arrest of one suspect on felony charges. He is being held without bond. Other arrests are anticipated.
Electronic Surveillance Equipment Ensures Officer Safety During Drug Trafficking Investigation
The Bradford County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office borrowed electronic surveillance equipment from ROCIC to document a months-long investigation into local drug trafficking. The sheriff’s office—a small, rural agency—could not otherwise afford to purchase or use such specialized equipment. As a result of the operation, three drug traffickers were arrested, seven drug cases were cleared, and ten additional suspects were identified. Seized during the operation were 80 grams of marijuana, 7 grams of crack cocaine, one firearm, and $2,320 in cash. The ROCIC equipment was used not only to document undercover narcotics purchases but also to ensure the safety of undercover law enforcement officers. The sheriff noted that his agency also avails itself of the ROCIC intelligence research staff and the intelligence analysts in their aggressive efforts to combat illegal drugs in its rural community.
Confidential Funds Lead to Drug and Property Seizures of $879,204 in “Operation Amigos”
“Operation Amigos” has been a long-term case involving drug trafficking cells associated with the Sinaloa Cartel in California, which was confirmed by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office. These cells were primarily in Los Angeles County, Alameda County, San Mateo County, and Santa Clara County. WSIN provided confidential funds for Operation Amigos to purchase cocaine and to provide informant support. The lead agency was the Santa Clara County Specialized Enforcement Team, with the Unified Narcotic Enforcement Team and the DEA assisting. The informant made numerous controlled purchases from a main suspect in Oakland, California, who was distributing cocaine throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Several federal wiretaps were authorized, and the case resulted in the arrests of six suspects and the indictment of two other suspects. Charges included distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, use of a communication facility to commit felony drug offenses, and illegal reentry of felons. The evidence and property seized were extensive, including 2 pounds of marijuana, valued at $4,000; 25 pounds of cocaine, valued at $700,000; 18 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at $108,000; three vehicles, valued at $35,000; two firearms, valued at $900; and two aircrafts, valued at $1,000. The total value of items seized was $879,204.
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