Colombia fighting organized crime with new CI3 intelligence center
By Dialogo November 28, 2013
The Colombian National Police recently launched a modern law enforcement intelligence center to help authorities in the fight against crime.
In particular, the technology available in the new Integrated Center for Information and Intelligence for Public Safety CI3 (Command Control Communications and Intelligence) should help police in their battle against organized crime, officials said.
The center, located in Bogota, has the most “(modern) technology to be more effective,” President Juan Manuel Santos said on Oct. 15, 2013, during a ceremony to open the new security complex.
Large amounts of intelligence accumulated by security forces who have battled guerilla fighters and organized crime groups over the span of decades will be kept at the center, said Gen. Rodolfo Palomino, the director of the Colombia National Police.
The intelligence on groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Los Rastrojos, and the National Liberation Army (ELN) will help police keep the country’s most dangerous criminal organizations contained, Palomino said. This in turn will help improve security throughout the country, the general explained.
“The emphasis now is public safety,” he said.
The center is one of the “most advanced” law enforcement facilities in Latin America, Palomino said. It is operated by 400 intelligence analysts, most of whom are young and college-educated. Each of the analysts has received at least two years of training.
High technological capabilities
The new information center has modern computers which have the capacity to process voluminous amounts of data, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Security analysts review and catalog the information that comes into the center from more than 8,000 security agents. Such information could include crime reports and intelligence gathered from informants, including organized crime operatives. Police agents send the information to the center using a small, secure device that is similar to a cellphone.
Tactics and strategy
The new intelligence center gives law enforcement analysts the ability to receive and process large amounts of information about criminal threats, according to Germán Garnica Sahid, a security analyst at the University del Rosario.
Officers from the Directorate of Police Intelligence (DIPOL) worked with a group of engineers from the U.S. multinational technlology firm IBM to develop the intelligence center. The intelligence gathering system is similar to the model used by Europol, the U.S. State Department, and the New York Police Department (NYPD), according to published reports.
Intelligence gathered by DIPOL has led to several important security victories in recent years. For example, in September, 2010, the DIPOL provided intelligence which led to a joint operation between the National Police and the military, in which the security forces confronted and killed Victor Julio Suarez Rojas, a high-ranking FARC leader who was also known as “Mono Jojoy.”
DIPOL officials and engineers took four years to develop the new intelligence center, which cost about $15 million (USD) to build.
The technological advances available at the intelligence center will help security forces and private citizens alike, Gen. Palomino said.
“The technology is allowing a better analysis of criminal behavior that affects citizens to help them avoid those monsters that have been created in the past, it allows them to be detected before they reach a certain level ,” Palomino said.
The new intelligence center will help security forces carry out the National Plan for Community Policing Quadrants (PNVCC), authorities said. Better intelligence will help authorities decide where to place security forces, officials said. Community policing is deployed in 760 municipalities, where about 84 percent of the civilian population lives, Palomino said.
The PNVCC has promoted important changes in how police agents do their jobs. Under PNVCC, police agents are assigned to specific neighborhoods, and are mandated to get to know the people who live and work there. This allows police agents to create stronger ties with members of the community and to become familiar with their safety concerns. This approach also encourages citizen participation and greater interaction with security forces, authorities said. Closer ties between the civilian population and police agents will help law enforcement officers obtain more and better intelligence, authorities said.
"Intelligence, a key tool for law enforcement,” President Santos said.
As an example of the importance of intelligence, the president noted the success of Operation Jaque in July 2008.
Security forces obtained intelligence regarding the whereabouts of 14 hostages who were being held by the FARC. The hostages included political candidate Ingrid Betancourt, seven police agents and members of the military, and three U.S. contractors. On July 2, 2008, security forces rescued the hostages without any bloodshed. The operation took 22 minutes.
Cooperating with the Armed Forces
The new intelligence center will help authorities compile intelligence on FARC activities in cities, according to security analyst Sahid Garnica. This intelligence will help the Armed Forces to develop tactics and strategies to dismantle the FARC in urban areas, Sahid Garnica said.
The intelligence center will also help police compile information on the activities of violent drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, the security analyst added.
The National Police is investing in new helicopters, patrol cars, and motorcycles as part of a broad initiative to improve security throughout the country.
The opening of the intelligence center and the investment in new equipment for the National Police should reassure the civilian population that the government is working effectively to fight organized crime as well as common criminals, the security analyst said.
“The government’s security strategy will increase the confidence of society in the security institutions,: Sahid Garnica predicted.
President Santos predicted that the new intelligence center will help security forces gain the upper hand in the battle against criminals.
“Intelligence is perhaps the most powerful weapon against crime in all its forms,” Santos said.