Science and Technology News

Friday, January 13, 2017

Department of Justice Efforts to Improve Law Enforcement Information Sharing



January 12, 2017
Courtesy of Joseph F. Klimavicz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief Information Officer

2016 was a great year in Department of Justice Information Technology.  I am especially proud of our efforts to modernize technology aimed at improving law enforcement information sharing -- with far reaching benefits not only within the department, but also extending to our law enforcement partners.  Specifically, we made significant advancements in key initiatives including: Tribal Access Program (TAP), Logical Entity Exchange Specifications (LEXS), Spectrum Relocation and Land Mobile Radio.

Tribal Access Program (TAP)
The department officially launched the Tribal Access Program (TAP) for National Crime Information in late 2015 to provide tribes access to national crime information systems for both civil and criminal purposes.  TAP allows tribes to more effectively serve and protect their nation’s citizens and by ensuring the exchange of critical data across the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) systems and other national crime information systems.

The Tribal Access Program is a multi-faceted program, delivering both technology and a training solution that provides tribes with consistent access to national crime information systems.  The cross-component team, comprised of the Department of Justice’s Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART), Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ), Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have drawn upon its experience in information systems, tribal law enforcement and sex offender registration and notification systems to break a long-standing impasse that was putting communities at risk. 

The program allows for unprecedented sharing of critical information between tribal, state and federal governments – information that could help solve a crime or even save someone’s life. It is the only program that allows national crime database information to be shared between tribal, state, and federal governments which results in the strengthening of government-to-government relationships. The ability for tribes to enter information into national crime databases benefits not only tribes but federal and local governments and communities since the data is available at a national level.

Since TAP has been implemented there have been over 60 sex offender related transactions; over 200 transactions related to orders of protection; over 130 entries that disqualify prohibited persons from purchasing firearms; over 250 fingerprint submissions for civil and criminal purposes; and over 2000 transactions for general investigative use.
Logistical Entity eXchange Specifications (LEXS) Version 5.0 Release

The department developed the Logical Entity eXchange Specifications (LEXS) several years ago to provide a framework for consistent and interoperable packaging of information to promote information sharing and interoperability within the justice community.  LEXS provides capabilities and tools that can be used by a broad range of agencies and organizations and avoids each developing their own, incompatible, information exchanges.

LEXS ensures information is exchanged in a standardized and consistent manner, shielding both data sources and data recipients from the complexity of multiple interfaces and allows for the multipurpose use of information.  It provides one language for communication of information between organizations.  LEXS is used by a number of national and nationwide information sharing systems and by many state and local criminal justice agencies and programs.

Version 5.0 of LEXS and its associated products are now available for download and use.  In this release, LEXS now supports streamlined messages, both message structure and content, and improved metadata flexibility while maintaining adherence to the National Information Exchange Model Package Description specification.   Additionally, LEXS 5.0 supports retrieval of information on specific entities rather than collections of data.

Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) 3 Spectrum Relocation
The relocation and reconstitution of law enforcement capabilities is a technically challenging, multi-year effort requiring close coordination among all affected Department of Justice components: ATF, DEA, FBI, USMS. ​ These four components have received over $1.1 billion dollars in spectrum relocation funds to cover costs to vacate the 1755-1780 MHz spectrum by July 2018, and to re-build affected DOJ wireless capabilities by 2023.  As a result of the auction, DOJ law enforcement components will replace existing wireless systems with newer, more spectrum efficient solutions.  These replacement systems will use the latest in current and future technology as they are deployed, and will be consistent with the mandate that "comparable capability" is maintained, rather than increasing DOJ’s capabilities as a result of the spectrum auction. 

The cross-component team made significant progress in FY 2016, including planning and design of new wireless systems.  The team also successfully accommodated early vacate requests from the wireless carriers, who are seeking early access to priority market areas before our planned spectrum vacate dates in 2018.  Also significant was the team’s push to vacate DOJ spectrum in four states and 10 major cities ahead of schedule. The team also worked with the vendor community to refine DOJ requirements, identify candidate technologies and assess market readiness to deploy new wireless solutions on federal spectrum.

Shared Land Mobile Radio (SLMR)
DOJ’s land mobile radio (LMR) programs provide tactical and investigative voice communications for field agents, deputy marshals and uniformed officers across the varied missions of the department.  DOJ’s shared LMR program, led by the FBI, provides a common radio infrastructure for use by investigative field components (FBI, DEA, ATF, USMS) as well as funding for priority initiatives, upgrading radio infrastructure and purchasing radios for use in the field.

In addition to maintaining operational systems, the FBI deploys SLMR systems nationwide on behalf of ATF, DEA and USMS.  The department’s deployment, known as “R&R/AddCap,” (which is short for “removal and replacement” and “additional capacity”) involves replacing wideband FBI radio infrastructure equipment with new narrowband equipment, where necessary, while adding equipment to provide capacity for the other DOJ components, and connecting all of these sites to a nationwide network core, which is managed by FBI Operational Technology Division.
Last year the program issued a RFI for LMR infrastructure and is currently reviewing responses. The team also provided LMR communications in support of key national events during 2016, such as the Super Bowl and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

We are constantly looking for ways to evolve our tools and technologies to support the department’s diverse mission. These projects are a small sample of the great work underway in this area. I look forward to sharing more as we move forward on these initiatives in 2017.

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