In January 2017, the State of Nebraska joined the small but growing number of U.S. states participating in a process called “federation.” Through federation, INTERPOL Washington provides U.S. law enforcement agencies the information technology support to enable queries in both domestic and INTERPOL criminal databases with a single real-time search transaction. Currently, most state law enforcement officers run inquiries through the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database. The NCIC catalogs information that officers enter on sex offenders, immigration violators, suspected gang members, people with outstanding warrants and individuals reported missing, for example. Police use the system to locate fugitives, identify missing people, and determine if a subject is driving a stolen car or is wanted elsewhere.
However, between 80 and 90 percent of INTERPOL data, including information on INTERPOL notices, wanted persons, stolen and lost travel documents, and stolen motor vehicles, does not meet the criteria for inclusion in NCIC databases. To capture the INTERPOL data, officers must run a separate query, lengthening the time before an officer determines whether a subject poses a specific threat. Federation solves this problem by connecting the databases, allowing law enforcement a complete view of a subject’s criminal domestic and international profile. Federation reduces the time officers spend running background checks, enhancing officer safety and efficiency.
Nebraska’s adoption of the program brings the number of participating states to 13, plus Washington, D.C. Federated searches are processed through the International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets). These combined searches can be conducted from both fixed and mobile platforms, including vehicle-mounted and hand-held devices. Depending upon an individual state’s existing information technology structure, there is minimal to no charge to participate in federation.
A component of the U.S. Department of Justice, INTERPOL Washington is co-managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As the designated representative to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) on behalf of the Attorney General, INTERPOL Washington serves as the national point of contact for all INTERPOL matters, coordinating international investigative efforts among member countries and the more than 18,000 local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement agencies in the United States.