Law Enforcement Counterintelligence
Many law enforcement agencies, including the
Tampa Police Department, have criminal intelligence units. The
mission of those units is to conduct investigations and operations
designed to collect and develop information concerning criminal
intentions and activities within their jurisdictions. Unfortunately,
the officers assigned to those units are frequently untrained in
counterintelligence skills. The purpose of this article is to
acquaint you with the definitions of intelligence and
counterintelligence and how they differ functionally. Also, a
secondary purpose is to emphasize how important it is that all law
enforcement officers develop good counterintelligence skills.
First, a definition of the terms intelligence and
counterintelligence are necessary. The term "intelligence"
refers to information and/or knowledge about an adversary obtained
through observation, investigation, analysis, or understanding.
"Counterintelligence" is that phase of intelligence covering all
activity designed to neutralize the effectiveness of adversary
intelligence collection activities. Also, counterintelligence
involves those activities that are concerned with identifying and
counteracting the security threat posed by hostile intelligence
services, organizations, or by individuals engaged in espionage,
sabotage, subversion, or terrorism.
you can see, intelligence is an "offensive" strategy, whereas,
counterintelligence is a "defensive" strategy. Until
relatively recently, American law enforcement agencies have focused
exclusively on developing intelligence skills and they have totally
ignored the importance of developing counterintelligence skills.
That shortcoming has negatively impacted on the effectiveness of
many law enforcement agencies nationwide and may have put some
investigations, and perhaps the lives of some law enforcement
officers, and their confidential informants in jeopardy.
Intelligence collection activities are no
longer the exclusive domain of governmental agencies. Sure, the
United States and most foreign governments have highly trained
professional intelligence organizations such as the CIA. But,
believe it or not, many criminal groups have their own intelligence
organizations within them.
Many criminal organizations target law enforcement agencies
and their personnel for intelligence collection. The goals of these
intelligence collection activities are to learn as much about the
police organizations they face, their activities, methodologies, and
their individual officers, as they can.
Think about it. Would it be beneficial for a local drug
trafficking organization to know how the Tampa Police Department's
Narcotics Bureau conducts its surveillance activities? How about if
the drug traffickers knew the work schedules of the narcotics
detectives handling their particular investigation?
What if they knew that one of those narcotics detectives was
going through a messy and expensive divorce and might be vulnerable
to a bribe? Would it also be useful if they knew the types and
colors of the vehicles the narcotics detectives used during their
surveillance operations? Or, how about if they knew the locations of
the clandestine listening devices planted during the investigation?
Of course, the answers to these questions are obvious. That is a
sample of the types of information a criminal group may seek by
mounting an intelligence operation against a law enforcement agency.
you think it would be difficult for a criminal group to collect this
information? You are kidding yourself if you do. Many ethnic gangs,
outlaw bikers, drug traffickers, and other criminal groups have the
money to hire former police officers, government intelligence
operatives, and experienced thugs with the expertise to gather that
type of information. They also have the money and the motivation to
bribe, intimidate, and extort key individuals who can supply the
information they are seeking.
Look within our own agency. How many scandals have we read or
heard about in the last five years concerning both sworn and unsworn
members of the Tampa Police Department? Unfortunately, sometimes
"bad apples" make it into the barrel with the rest of us. I dare say
that 99.9% of our police officers and civilian employees are honest,
hardworking civil servants. It would be na´ve to believe, however,
that a minute element within our agency is not corrupt or vulnerable
to blackmail, coercion, or bribery.
you think that unlikely or unrealistic, just consider the plight of
the venerable Federal Bureau of Investigation and the highly
respected Central Intelligence Agency. There have been several
well-publicized cases involving the discovery of spies within those
agencies in the recent past. It has been clearly shown that Aldrich
Ames of the CIA and Robert Hanssen of the FBI comprised the
activities of their respective agencies in exchange for money. It is
widely suspected that their corruption resulted in the deaths of
several people and cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.
point is that we, as law enforcement officers, must change our
mindset and recognize that some of today's criminals are better
educated, better funded, better motivated (by potentially higher
profits and the prospect of longer prison sentences), and more
sophisticated than at any other time in our history. We must undergo
a paradigm shift and accept that we are not invulnerable and immune
from intelligence collection activities by our adversaries. It is
critical that we develop good counterintelligence capabilities such
as surveillance detection and countersurveillance skills. We must do
a better job of protecting our methodologies, investigative
techniques and operational activities, as well as our personal
information. How many of you want the drug trafficker you arrested
last night to know where you live and where your children go to
Protecting our methodologies, investigative techniques, and
operational activities is known as Operations Security or OPSEC. Did
any of you receive a block of instruction during your basic police
academy in OPSEC? I doubt it. Do you think it would be useful to
know those skills, even as a patrol officer? I hope you can see the
value in such training.
This is the first in a series of articles I intend to submit
to MPO Steve Smith regarding the issue of counterintelligence and
OPSEC. In future articles, I hope to provide you with some of the
knowledge you need in those areas that you can apply as you perform
your duties as a law enforcement officer and serve the citizens of
Fellow Reserve Force Members:
we discussed at the last Reserve Force meeting, MPO Steve Smith has
authorized the formation of a TPD Reserve Force Honor Guard Detail
(HGD). I will be the officer in charge of the detail, at least for
time being. I am soliciting volunteers who are willing to dedicate
some personal time to learning military-style drill and ceremony.
The time used for HGD training and actual appearances can be counted
toward the required 12 hrs. per month for the Reserve Force.
The idea is that there are probably going to be times when
the full-time HGD is unable or unwilling to provide personnel for an
event such as a funeral for a retired law enforcement officer, a
high school sporting event, or a parade, etc. In that case, we may
be able to send our HGD to represent the department.
Please send me an e-mail if you're interested in being a
member of the HGD. You must be well-groomed, take pride in your
appearance in uniform, be reasonably fit physically, and willing to
put in long hours for training. I'll send additional information to
those who respond favorably to this message.
Thank you. Gregory R. Gonthier R/Corporal, Squad 6
General Info -
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Tampa Police Department Reserve
One Police Center, 411 N. Franklin St. Tampa, FL. 33602
Phone: (813) 276-3200 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org