Police Intelligence Collection and National Security Intelligence

Until 1945, police intelligence remained a key source of national intelligence. Of particular importance for counterespionage and counterterrorism, police networks also provided strategic intelligence on countries with which police cooperation took place and, in times of war, facilitated operations on enemy territory. From 1929, for instance, the Cairo Police coordinated a global intelligence network ranging from Europe to China and the United States which although primarily dealing with the international narcotics trade also combated political unrest. From 1934, U.S. law enforcement combated first German, then Soviet intelligence activities, and from 1940 in Central and South America as well. From 1942, Swedish police liaised with and supported resistance movements in Nazi-occupied Europe at the same time that they also collected intelligence through liaison with the German Gestapo. By dealing with both sides in a conflict, police intelligence not only acquired comprehensive data but also enabled second -track negotiations. However, with the Cold War emergence of more formalized and compartmentalized national intelligence services, police intelligence collection was gradually disregarded. This mindset continued until the 9/11 terrorist attacks which again brought national intelligence out of the diplomatic reception rooms and onto the streets of dangerous neighborhoods. Voices were again heard arguing for the use of international police networks for national intelligence collection. This working paper describes the different police collection disciplines, addresses how police intelligence collection has evolved under conditions of increasing oversight and privacy concerns, and argues for the importance of including police intelligence collection in
a variety of national intelligence tasks.

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