Accountability, the War on Terror, and U.S. Police Criminal Intelligence Units

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 23 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Joseph DEANGELIS, University of Idaho, USA
Brian WOLF, University of Idaho, USA
Criminal intelligence units have become a common, though somewhat controversial, feature of U.S. policing over the last several decades.  Recently, a growing body of criminal justice research has focused on the policy and technical considerations involved with implementing intelligence-led policing initiatives.  Far less research, however, has explored the social and cultural conflicts that have accompanied the emergence of this type of policing activity.  Criminal intelligence units have long been criticized by rights activists as being unnecessarily secretive, unaccountable, and prone to abuse and corruption.   Moreover, US activists have been particularly critical of the post-911 expansion in the use of multijurisdictional "fusion centers," which bring together U.S. federal, state, and local policing agencies to collect and analyze information relating to individual suspects, groups, or patterns in suspected criminal activity.  Partly in response to this criticism, US law enforcement agencies have sought to legitimate the use of intelligence-led policing through public information campaigns, the creation of credentialing programs for intelligence analysts, and the formation of professional associations.  Taking the debate over intelligence-led policing as background, this paper reports the results of a qualitative thematic analysis of policy and procedure documents drawn from U.S. criminal intelligence units and professional organizations.  More specifically, this paper adopts a contextual constructivist framework and examines how police departments and criminal intelligence units have sought to reduce external pressure for reform by appropriating, re-packaging and re-deploying a series of discursive frames initially offered by skeptical community rights activists.  By exploring these discursive processes, this paper will allow us to better understand how criminal justice actors seek to defuse and deflect the claims making activities of external reform groups.