- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s intelligence and special operations unit said the federal government’s efforts to share intelligence with state and local law enforcement agencies needs to be improved.

“I think to say that we have an integrated federal intelligence system is false,” said Michael P. Downing, deputy police chief and commander of counterterrorism intelligence and special operations. “We have a centralized federal intelligence enterprise, and we’re not taking advantage of the decentralized law enforcement structure that we have in the United States.”

Mr. Downing said in an interview that he has been working to “de-federalize and decentralize this intelligence system.” He also said the LAPD intelligence unit he heads, with some 300 analysts, seeks to complement - and not compete - with the FBI’s presidential mandate for domestic intelligence.

The goal of LAPD counterterrorism intel efforts is to better utilize the eyes and ears on the ground of the estimated 800,000 state and local law enforcement officers and 72 regional intelligence fusion centers. The centers are supported by the Department of Homeland Security but are lacking effectiveness, he said.

Local police networks in the country need to be better educated and trained on what information to collect, what are the specific threats, and then bolster the efforts of the local intelligence fusion centers, Mr. Downing said.

For DHS, he said, “let them go from the weak sister to the strong sister that the [intelligence community] will respect because they are harnessing all this intelligence, then I think you’d have a truly integrated national intelligence enterprise,” he said.

DHS spokesman Andrew L. Lluberes said the department is working toward “enhancing our support to the national network of fusion centers.” DHS “is committed to supporting fusion centers as the focal points within the state and local environment for the receipt, analysis, gathering, and sharing of threat-related information between partners at all levels,” he said.

LAPD’s counterterrorism bureau hopes to be emulated around the country. For example, the Joint Regional Intelligence Center in the Los Angeles area includes representatives from seven counties with a total of 18 million people and 166 police agencies. The JRIC surveyed intelligence threats helped identify intelligence targets and plan source coverage, he said.

“We’ve tried to institutionalize the idea of [counterterrorism] within the department so that people become collectors. People know what the threat is, they understand the threat domain, they know who the adversary is, what the capability is, what the intent is,” Mr. Downing said.

The department conducts extensive community outreach to Muslim communities in Los Angeles. But it also uses what Mr. Downing calls “hunt-and-pursue” intelligence programs.

Hunt-and-pursue tactics involve developing “actionable” intelligence on terrorist threats then conducting disruption operations through arrests and other undercover action.


Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican and a leading voice in the Senate on arms control, criticized the Obama administration this week for its arms control-centered approach to national security.

In particular, Mr. Kyl told a gathering of defense specialists that the administration is seeking further strategic nuclear warhead cuts that could undermine deterrence and the U.S. nuclear umbrella for allies. The administration also wants to ratify a treaty defeated years ago by the Senate to ban nuclear tests and is engaging in missile-defense talks with the Russians that could undermine U.S. advantages in the area.

Story Continues →