'One-of-a-Kind' Nationwide Intelligence Toolbox Program

  • David Carter, Ph.D.
  • Professor, Criminal Justice

A professor in MSU's School of Criminal Justice, David Carter is passionate about training the nation's law enforcement officers to build an intelligence capacity that can prevent and disrupt terrorism-focused activities.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Department of Justice recommended that "Every law enforcement agency, regardless of size ... develop an intelligence capacity." Implementing this recommendation in a way that protects citizens' privacy and civil rights was what fueled Dr. Carter's concept for the Intelligence Toolbox training program.

Law enforcement training in progress

Local, State and Federal Participation

Supported by $7.5 million in Department of Homeland Security grants, Dr. Carter and his staff have developed an intelligence-analysis curriculum and trained over 2,600 officers at more than 1,200 law enforcement agencies in 43 states and three countries since 2005. Partners in the training, along with MSU's School of Criminal Justice, include FEMA in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Fusion Centers"

One challenge for law enforcement agencies has been to broaden their local focus into an expanded information-sharing system that allows a wide array of people and organizations to "fuse" their resources to address terrorism and the multi-faceted array of crimes that frequently accompany it. This broadened focus has led to the development and expansion of intelligence "fusion centers" across the nation.

And many of these fusion centers are relying on Dr. Carter's training in a big way. According to Carter, "The demand for the training is amazing -- we are booking programs 15 months out." He has even received requests from Washington D.C.'s National Capitol Region Fusion Center and the New York City Police Department. "It's interesting to note," says Carter, "that some agencies in our training have had a long experience in intelligence, yet have redeveloped their policies and practices based on our training."

The Intelligence Toolbox utilizes a blended learning approach that provides participants with a hands-on, proactive experience, enabling them to implement strategies specifically relevant to their own agency. This approach has been rewarding for Carter as well, who says, "Many agencies and fusion centers literally take the materials from our training to develop policy and practice for their intelligence function. It is truly a case where we have had a direct impact on the way government performs its duties all across the U.S."

Current funding will allow the training program to continue for two more years and Carter is optimistic about further funding. The program is effective partly because it is "one-of-a-kind; there is no other program like it in the U.S.," says Carter. Russell M. Porter, Chairman of the Criminal Intelligence Coordinating Council, agrees, stating, "The Michigan State Intelligence Training is the best that is available."

Dr. Carter has also written Law Enforcement Intelligence: A Guide for State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement. A hard copy of this 2006 guide is available free of charge from the U.S. DoJ/COPS Response Center at (800) 421-6770 or in pdf format. The second edition of the Guide will be published by the COPS Office later this year.

  • Written by Amy Byle, University Outreach and Engagement

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