Making the Connection Through ACIIS
Posted: May 1, 2020
Sharing intelligence is one of the most effective weapons law enforcement agencies have at their disposal in combatting serious and organized crime. And one of the best ways they have to share that intelligence is through the Automated Criminal Intelligence Information System (ACIIS).
ACIIS is the only national criminal intelligence database and is governed by Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC). ACIIS is accessible by federal, provincial and municipal police forces, as well as the Department of National Defence.
One of the priority uses of the database is for national intelligence sharing nationally and for all police agencies to check to see if a suspect, person of interest, or organized crime group is already entered in the system, what intelligence there is on them, and if they are already involved in an ongoing investigation in another jurisdiction. This allows for a more efficient use of law enforcement resources in all manners. Searching ACIIS also ensures members’ safety and reduces the danger of exposing an investigation or planned takedown. Ingram feels this should be a high priority to ensure there is no overlap in any investigation. Historical data in all of these aspects is also held in the database for future reference.
Here in Alberta, ACIIS entries are managed by two people under the Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta (CISA) umbrella: provincial ACIIS coordinator Toni Ingram and her assistant, Christine Heintz. They receive intelligence documents on organized and serious crime from all partner agencies across the province, including reports on ongoing serious and organized crime investigations and intelligence gathering on organized crime groups, and enter the information into the national database. Ingram also manages the ACIIS program for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
The number of reports from Alberta going into ACIIS can vary greatly from partner agency to partner agency, depending on their size and the complexity of their investigations. But Ingram is proud to say that, at a recent federal meeting, it was noted that Alberta was leading the way in the number of reports submitted to ACIIS for intelligence sharing — something she says proves how much value law enforcement agencies see in the tool.
“Agencies are seeing the value in ACIIS and intelligence sharing now more than ever, and that’s why we are recognized as currently leading. CISA partner agencies are extremely cooperative and there has been so much more buy-in to using the program,” she said, adding that she tries to visit each partner agency at least once a year to answer questions and train people on the system if required.
Ingram herself joined CISA in the role of the provincial ACIIS coordinator in June 2012, after 31 years as an operator in the RCMP K Division operational communications centre. Prior to that, Ingram worked with the RCMP Calgary Drug Section, Fort McMurray RCMP, and the RCMP Internal Affairs Unit in Ontario.
“I really didn’t know what ACIIS was all about before applying for the position as the database is only accessible by approved personnel and the intelligence is protected. I had a limited knowledge of what it was for this reason,” she said. “Since joining the ACIIS unit, I have found it to be very rewarding, and I always enjoy coming to work every day. I have a terrific group of coworkers, as well as being a part of the ALERT building personnel.”
In her time working with ACIIS, Ingram said the evolution of its technology has been a bit slow. But she advised that there is now a new system being developed to enhance and replace the old system in the next couple of years: the Canadian Criminal Intelligence System (CCIS).
“It is my understanding that they are currently working out security aspects, what parts of the system we can adapt from what we already have and cementing what new aspects can be adapted to modernize it,” she said. “The new system is in the final draft with the steering committee and the National Executive Committee has approved the new system moving forward. It is anticipated that, within the next two years, they’ll have a pilot to launch, and I sincerely hope that Alberta will be one of the provinces chosen to test it.”