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LAW ENFORCEMENT ONLINE
Information Sharing, Web Style

09/06/05

Law Enforcement Online Graphic

After the first London bombing in July, we notified more than 5,000 law enforcement professionals nationwide about the attacks in 32 seconds.

How? Through Law Enforcement Online, or LEO, a secure computer network that gives law enforcement officers around the country access to sensitive but unclassified information, intelligence reports, and alerts crafted by our agents and analysts--the kind of information our partners need quickly, but shouldn't be available to the public.

LEO started ten summers ago as a small dial-up service with just 20 members. Now, it has more than 46,000 members nationwide and a host of features and capabilities offered through the Internet.

"One of our agents said it best: LEO is the 'the law enforcement, criminal justice, and public safety information highway of the 21st century,'" said Special Agent Kenneth Cassine, LEO Unit Chief and program manager within our Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

How else has LEO evolved? Shortly before 9/11/01, we made LEO a Virtual Private Network that operates securely over the Internet and enables features too cumbersome for the dial-up service. We now offer the Virtual Command Center (VCC)--an information sharing and crisis management tool. The VCC allows the law enforcement community to use LEO at local and remote sites as an electronic command center to submit and view information and intelligence.

For example, law enforcement personnel working a recent Academy Awards ceremony observed several unauthorized people in a restricted area carrying balloons. The incident was reported to the VCC and immediately posted. An officer working the event saw the notice. He knew from previous experience that the individuals were probably anarchists who intended to throw balloons filled with paint and other liquids and shared that information through the VCC. The officer's action helped ensure that the group was detained without incident.

What else does LEO offer? Here's a rundown:

  • A national alert system directing members to the LEO site for information on emergencies (like the London bombings, for example);
  • Some 235 special interest groups that allow members who share expertise or interests to connect with each other, including areas on terrorism, street gangs, and bombs;
  • Access to important and useful databases, like those run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children;
  • E-mail services, which enable members to submit fingerprints to the FBI for processing by our Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System;
  • Distance learning-with several online learning modules on topics like terrorism response, forensic anthropology and leadership; and
  • A multimedia library of publications, documents, studies, research, technical bulletins, and other reports of interest to LEO users.

If you work for a law enforcement, criminal justice, or public safety agency, you can join LEO, too. Just send an e-mail to leoprogramoffice@leo.gov or call 202-324-8833.