Tracey Montano , Consultant
November 14, 2023

The Benefits of Using
Big Data in Law Enforcement

Harnessing Decision Intelligence for Enhanced Collaboration between Investigative Analysts and Law Enforcement Agents  

Effective collaboration between investigative analysts and law enforcement agents is a proven driver of better investigative results. Today’s decision intelligence and data analytics technologies place a wide range of collaborative tools within reach.  

But the technology on its own isn’t enough. Without a strong foundation of collaborative training and ongoing communication, which both illuminate and strengthen the shared mission of analysts and investigators, the effectiveness of investigative and analytical efforts will be limited within the confines of a siloed approach.  

At the federal level, agent and analyst collaboration has evolved over time, offering valuable insights and lessons learned to strengthen partnerships at the state and local levels. This opportunity extends to inter and intra-agency cooperation, as well as joint task force settings, where decision intelligence and data analytics can be pivotal in advancing these collaborative efforts. 

Drawing from my extensive 25-year career, during which I spearheaded federal collaborative investigative endeavors and closely partnered with other federal, state, and local agencies, I repeatedly experienced the profound impact of involving analysts in strategic planning throughout the investigative process. This approach ensures that they gain a comprehensive understanding of the case’s broader context, enabling them to provide meaningful insights and intelligence beyond mere responses to queries.  

Collaborating for Proven Results

Pairing agents and analysts yields tangible benefits. I experienced this firsthand early in my career as the IRS Criminal Investigation Resident Agent in Charge of the Fresno Fraud Detection Center, where I oversaw approximately 75 analysts who were responsible for identifying tax refund fraud schemes and preventing the issuance of false tax refunds. At the time, there was a significant and longstanding major tax fraud ring that required a close collaborative effort between my analysts, local IRS-CI agents, and multiple state and local law enforcement agencies to dismantle.  

At a pre-operational search warrant meeting involving approximately 75 law enforcement personnel from various agencies, I orchestrated a presentation by the team of analysts well-versed in the intricacies of the fraud scheme to present the results of their analytical work and knowledge of the co-conspirators. This presentation, conducted within the boundaries of federal tax disclosure laws, provided meaningful insights to the law enforcement agents and unified both the agents and the analysts around the key objectives of the case. 

The proactive and transparent collaboration between analysts and agents proved pivotal in achieving successful results. This collaborative effort led to the indictment of twenty-five individuals and the issuance of warrants for an additional 10 fugitives, marking a significant milestone in combatting one of the era’s largest tax fraud conspiracies. Subsequently, legislative changes were enacted to enhance the efficiency and security of tax filing procedures. 

In our operational landscape, collaboration stands as a cornerstone, providing individuals with the vital context required for optimal performance in training, enforcement activities, or investigative research. 

Analytics Has Advanced

As an IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge, I placed significant emphasis on fostering collaborative training initiatives that hinged on cutting-edge technology. When a new analytical platform was introduced, I took the initiative to organize joint training sessions for agents and analysts within my field office. These sessions provided a unique opportunity for analysts and agents to work together on live leads, allowing each group to gain a comprehensive understanding of the investigative process from the other’s perspective. Furthermore, I expanded these efforts by arranging a formal training session for all task force members, irrespective of their agency affiliation. This collective training aimed to accelerate and maximize the benefits of decision intelligence beyond my field office.  

Today’s advanced decision intelligence and data analytics technology offer a means to bridge the gap between agents and analysts, facilitating a deeper grasp of the criminal allegations and key case details. With a unified investigative workspace, agents and analysts can share vitally important case information and generate new leads in real-time.  

Improved data integration and advanced machine learning analytics, empower analysts to process and analyze large volumes of data from diverse sources, including surveillance footage, phone records, financial transactions, and social media activities, to extract relevant insights. Analysts are trained to identify patterns, trends, and associations in data to help establish connections between seemingly unrelated incidents or individuals. Agents can provide context to this information, identifying key individuals, locations, and events that might not be apparent from the data alone. 

Decision intelligence and data analytics platforms center agents and analysts with shared insights to develop leads, track suspects, and make informed decisions about where to focus their investigative efforts. 

Evolving Training and Working Environments

The current landscape of collaborative opportunities, bolstered by the support of decision intelligence and data analytics, comes at a crucial juncture as we develop the next generation of state and local investigative analysts and law enforcement agents.  

The workplace environment has transformed due to COVID-19, increasing opportunities for efficient collaboration. Remote workgroups, facilitated by teleconferencing and screen sharing, have become a powerful tool. Training has shifted to online, visual formats, catering to a new generation of visual learners and communicators. 

Throughout my career, I witnessed many analyst and agent partnerships flourish after experiencing the benefits of working “side by side.” Today, we’ve graduated from a physical side-by-side to a virtual side-by-side, and advanced technology plays a vital enabling role. 

Technology Accelerates Collaboration

There’s a recognized need for increased knowledge sharing, investigative collaboration, and a unified approach between agents and analysts of all levels, particularly among state and local agencies participating in joint task forces. By prioritizing collaboration and emphasizing a shared mission between agents and analysts, we can leverage their respective strengths to create a more unified and effective approach to criminal investigations. 

However, successful agent and analyst partnerships often won’t germinate and blossom by themselves. Leaders are essential in proactively providing them with opportunities to train, investigate, analyze, and strategize as a cohesive team.  A decision intelligence and data analytics platform can be invaluable in accelerating this effort, helping these partnerships flourish to achieve the best possible investigative results.  

Let's Empower Decision Intelligence

Tracey Montano , Consultant

Tracey Montaño is a former IRS Criminal Investigation Senior Leader and an industry consultant for Cognyte.
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