Law Enforcement

FBI adds feature to threat notice system

police officer using wireless device (First Responder Network Authority/Flickr)

In a wide-ranging hearing on the myriad threats to the U.S. homeland, from white supremacist terrorists, border security, school shooters, and cyber attackers, the director of the FBI gave a glimpse of how the agency is using technology to blunt one of those threats.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said his agency has implemented a new threat-sharing capability on its Law Enforcement Enterprise Portal (LEEP).

Wray told the Nov. 5 panel addressing threats to the homeland that his agency has added a "dual route" capability to its eGuardian incident reporting platform that allows the agency to send terror threat notices to its field offices as well as state law enforcement fusion centers.

The eGuardian platform was implemented in 2009 to distribute suspicious activity reports, or SARs, to FBI field offices as well as state law enforcement agencies. eGuardian is a "sensitive but unclassified" information sharing platform that hosted by the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division as a service on LEEP, according to the FBI.

The dual-notification capability, said Wray, has resulted in arrest of at least one person "within hours" of the notification being sent out to a state fusion center.

Under questioning, Wray told Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that in the wake the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the agency had "made extensive changes" to the way it handles tips from the public, including the agency's technology, such as the call center, staffing, training and oversight.

Scott noted that there were various bits of information on the alleged shooter's intentions that weren't shared among local and federal law enforcement agencies effectively.

On Oct. 29, Scott introduced the Threat Information Protocol for Sharing Act, to sharpen the FBI's handling of "actionable intelligence" on potential school shooters and others threatening mass violence. The bill would require sharing of all state-specific information the FBI gets through its tip line and website.

Wray described the task of winnowing thousands of tips phoned into the FBI's call center as very difficult. He said he had gone to the call center  in Clarksburg, W.Va., and "sat in with call operators" to get a feel for its operations.

The call center, he said, handles 3,000 tip calls per day. Of those, about 60 are a potential threat to life. About 80% of those, he said, the FBI can't act on because they're don't qualify for its jurisdiction.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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