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Nlets and DHS: a new era of information sharing

Written by Chelsea Keefer

Nlets and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are working together to provide access to federal data that has never been available at the state and local level. The DHS Law Enforcement Information Sharing Initiative (LEISI) is a new service for law enforcement that will be available via a set of queries over the Nlets network.

Nlets is the premiere interstate justice and public safety network in the nation for the exchange of law enforcement-, criminal justice- and public safety-related information. The user population is composed of all of the United States and territories, all Federal agencies with a justice component, selected international agencies, and a variety of strategic partners that serve the law enforcement community—all cooperatively exchanging data. The types of data being exchanged varies from motor vehicle and drivers’ data, to Canadian and Interpol databases, to state criminal history records and driver license and corrections images. Operations consist of nearly 1 billion transactions a year to over 900,000 PC, mobile and handheld devices in the U.S. and Canada at 45,000 user agencies and to 1.2 million individual users.

The mission of Nlets is to provide, within a secure environment, an international justice telecommunications capability and information services that will benefit to the highest degree, the safety, the security, and the preservation of human life and the protection of property. Nlets will assist those national and international government agencies and other organizations with similar missions that enforce or aid in enforcing local, state, or international laws or ordinances.

How it Works

The LEIS service (LEISS) is comprised of DHS Service-Oriented Architecture (Web Services) that uses the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM) and National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) standards. Essentially, the LEIS Service is a channel that connects state and local law enforcement with DHS law enforcement data. The service will expose person, vessel, vehicle, and business case information from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) case and booking systems.

Leveraging the Nlets infrastructure allowed DHS to make the data available nationwide via a one-way query. These new Nlets message keys are critical in helping DHS to provide more investigative data than ever to state and local law enforcement. The service will provide access to data on closed and open cases; however, certain sensitive information—for example, undercover operations, terrorism task forces, female victims of violence, etc.—will not be provided.

“DHS is excited about sharing law enforcement information with the International Justice and Public Safety Network, also known as Nlets. By utilizing the Nlets system, we can deliver DHS law enforcement information to over 784,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States and Canada to facilitate collaboration between law enforcement agencies,” Steven Cooper, the Executive Director, LEISI PMO (DHS, ICE) stated.

The DHS LEIS service will share biographical data (i.e., “subject (person) centric” case information) such as name, DOB, phone number, address and physical descriptors. The service will not only expose critical DHS law enforcement information to law enforcement agencies, but it will provide an automated rapid response to the user.
Response data that comes back can include the fields below. Fields that will also appear in a match list are asterisked. From a match list, one can query for the full record based on an Entity Identifier number.

In addition to working with Nlets, DHS has deployed the service and established connections in the state of Arizona (AZLink), in the Pacific Northwest (Law Enforcement Information Exchange Northwest [LInX NW]), with the Department of Justice (OneDOJ), with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), and with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS). DHS is completing connectivity testing in North Central Texas (Law Enforcement Analysis Portal (LEAP)), and in the coming years, will deploy the LEIS Service to the National Data Exchange (N-DEx), the National Capital Region LInX (NCR LInX), and the Rio Grande LInX (RG LInX).

Through DHS and the LEIS service, federal law enforcement agencies are sharing both open and closed case file information via the Nlets network and system. This will assist our country’s homeland security efforts and put key law enforcement officers in contact with each other to build cases and solve crimes. Having this level of information sharing in place is a significant step in knocking down the walls between agencies that in the past may have allowed criminals to slip through the system,” said Frank Minice, Nlets Chief Information and Technology Officer.

Chelsea Keefer is a Document Specialist for Nlets, The International Justice & Public Safety Network. She can be reached at ckeefer@nlets.org.


Published in Public Safety IT, Nov/Dec 2010

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