Coordination of Investigations by Department of Justice Violent Crime Task Forces

Evaluation and Inspections Report I-2007-004
May 2007
Office of the Inspector General

Conclusion and Recommendations

The Department has increased the use of different types of task forces to help reduce violent crime. At the end of FY 2005, there were 84 cities with more than 1 violent crime task force operated by the Department and its components, up from 20 cities at the beginning of FY 2003.

As the number of cities with multiple task forces has increased, concerns have also risen among Department officials, members of Congress, and local police chiefs that the Departmentís task force investigations must be well coordinated to avoid duplication of effort. In the Conference Report on the Departmentís FY 2006 appropriations bill, the Appropriations Committees directed the OIG to assess the coordination of investigations conducted by 210 violent crime task forces.

The Department operates violent crime task forces with overlapping missions in the same city without requiring the components to coordinate task force operations, cooperate during investigations, or deconflict events. In August 2005, the Department issued a policy requiring the components to obtain the Deputy Attorney General’s approval to conduct anti-gang programs and activities in new locations. To implement the 2005 policy, in June 2006 the Office of the Deputy Attorney General established a detailed application process for new anti-gang activities requiring support from and a recommendation by the U.S. Attorney for the jurisdiction in which any new anti-gang task force would operate.

However, outside of anti-gang activities, there are still no Department policies requiring the coordination of the operations of other types of violent crime task forces. As a result, we found inconsistent and inadequate cooperation and deconfliction among the Department’s violent crime task forces we reviewed. U.S. Attorneys and component task force managers in four of the eight cities we visited do not actively coordinate task force operations. In some cities, task forces fail to use information-sharing systems and, as a result, conduct duplicate investigations. Interviews with Special Agents and Deputy Marshals in six of the eight cities as well as our review of nation-wide arrest data showed that task forces do not often cooperate in joint investigations. While task force members generally deconflict specific events during investigations, we learned of three serious blue-on-blue incidents that demonstrated the need to improve deconfliction efforts to ensure officer safety.

Our analysis of nation-wide task force arrest data also indicated that the components’ coordination of task force investigations was limited. We found 1,288 arrests had been reported by more than one task force from FYs 2003 through 2005. Only 520 of these arrests resulted from joint investigations, while 768 resulted from duplicate investigations by two task forces.

We believe that the Department should establish policies governing the coordination of all task forces and their operations. Specifically, we recommend that the Department:

  1. Require that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the components’ task force managers in each jurisdiction with multiple violent crime task forces implement guidance for coordinating task force operations.

  2. Require each component to use national and local information-sharing and deconfliction systems to coordinate investigations and protect officer safety.

  3. Require the components to submit all proposed violent crime or fugitive task forces to an assessment and approval process similar to that used by the Anti-Gang Coordination Committee.

  4. Require each component to examine compliance with Department and component policies on task force coordination during periodic internal management reviews.

« Previous Table of Contents Next »