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03/17/2008

ICE launches new law enforcement information sharing service

Program designed with protecting individual privacy and legal considerations in mind

SAN DIEGO, Calif.- Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Julie L. Myers announced today a law enforcement information sharing service that provides the country's largest border community access to federal database information.

At a press conference with Ambassador Ted McNamara, U.S. Attorney Karen Hewitt and local law enforcement partners, Myers provided an overview of how the service works and the specific benefits to San Diego including the enhancement it will bring to border security.

"This launch significantly enhances our communication and data-sharing capabilities with our law enforcement partners in San Diego. Our partnership will ensure greater public safety by bringing together critical law enforcement information," said Myers. "Expanding technology to support improved information sharing will allow all our law enforcement partners to investigate crimes in a smarter, faster and more effective manner."

The capabilities of LEISS and the information law enforcement can gather from the use of the service are critical in a border community like San Diego, where the incidence of border violence and crimes are at their greatest.

Law enforcement investigators will now have access to more than 23 million records of data relating to persons of interest from completed ICE investigations. These include persons of interest in child pornography, drug smuggling, alien smuggling and fraud, and immigrations and customs investigations.

This automated system allows investigators a faster, more efficient approach to the manual process they have being doing all along. This service does not perform predictive analysis. Instead, it presents information that is already available in a clear, organized and responsible fashion.

"New technologies, and the open sharing of information, greatly enhance our ability, as a department, to investigate crimes in a smarter, quicker and more efficient manner," said Myers.

Addressing privacy concerns, ICE and Ambassador Ted McNamara, the Program Manager for Information Sharing Environment at the Directorate of National Intelligence, said, "This service was established in a manner that recognizes the criticality of improving our information sharing capabilities and at the same time ensuring that the information privacy and legal rights of Americans are and continue to be protected."

The law enforcement agencies that will be using this information in the course of their investigations are keenly aware of the need to protect individual rights. From day one and in every step of the LEISS, privacy was, and remains, our greatest concern.

This service enables investigators non-obvious relationships, or patterns, between individuals or organizations in a manner that quickly highlights those connections. A partnership such as this is a vital step in our nation's approach to improving the flow of information as directed by the President in the National Strategy for Information Sharing.