Canadian law enforcement and intelligence agencies are betting IT will help them combat organized crime and terrorist activity, police officials told press conference attendees.
Security Enforcement (INSET) teams announced the opening of a Toronto-based operational centre Tuesday. The 50,000 sq. ft. facility was created using a $22 million fund made available by the Federal Public Security and Anti Terrorism initiative, officials said. Both CSFU and INSET are funded and administered by the RCMP.
The centre is for investigators from 11 municipal, provincial and federal agencies to coordinate efforts in fighting and preventing organized crime and terrorist activity.
The information and communications technology will enable officers from such distant jurisdictions as Vancouver and Toronto to share information and coordinate investigative efforts, said CFSEU/INSET chief superintendent Ben Soave. Information sharing on this scale has not been possible before but is crucial, he said, in order to fight against the increasingly sophisticated modes of operation among organized criminals.
“”Our opponent is a . . . criminal increasingly familiar with most of our investigative techniques and who knows no borders,”” he said.
The centre will be home to some 165 investigators and numerous support staff from various agencies. Investigators from one agency will be able to access the databases of the other 10 member agencies in search of information that may aid their work, explained RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli.
“”It will mean that reaching out over jurisdictions will be as easy as walking down the hall,”” he said.
Soave said there is already a high level of cooperation between Canada’s law enforcement agencies but the centre’s technology, including videoconferencing and simultaneous translation, will help these geographically separated groups to act as a single force.
Information will now also be shared between teams who wouldn’t normally collaborate because of the diverse nature of their work, said Ontario attorney general David Young. Divisions like organized crime and anti-terrorist squads for example, may not cross paths often and may seem to be pursuing two different criminal elements. And yet, “”in the course of organized crime investigations we often come across information that would be applicable to anti-terrorist investigations,”” he said.
The centre will also rely on IT to allow for speedy alerts in case of emergency, says INSET member Reg King. So if a crime has been committed or a terrorist attack carried out critical information can be sent out to law enforcement officers across Canada and even to the US almost instantaneously.
“”Say I have a picture of a box cutter and I need to explain it quickly. I can just broadcast the picture across the