Enabling Collaboration and Communication Across Law Enforcement Jurisdictions: Data Sharing in a Multiagency Partnership

Published date01 August 2022
Date01 August 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Criminal Justice Policy Review
2022, Vol. 33(7) 732 –755
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/08874034211066756
Enabling Collaboration and
Communication Across Law
Enforcement Jurisdictions:
Data Sharing in a Multiagency
Jordan C. Pickering1 and Andrew M. Fox2
Offenders do not always operate within jurisdictional boundaries and, as such,
neighboring law enforcement agencies can benefit from sharing crime data and other
investigation-related information with one another, with the shared goal of reducing
crime throughout their region. In 2016, one such partnership was formed with seven
law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s Office, and public health officials in
King County, Washington. As part of a larger evaluation of this regional collaboration,
the authors assessed the data and intelligence-sharing behaviors of key personnel
from each participating agency over an 18-month period. This was done through a
series of interviews with key personnel and the use of social network analysis. Results
suggest that, although data-sharing networks increased in size and project personnel
were able to identify benefits to sharing crime data with one another (e.g., seeing
the “bigger picture” regarding crime in their region, using shared crime data to track
and combat violent crime), they also identified a number of obstacles associated
with cross-jurisdictional data sharing. Findings from this evaluation contribute to
the collective understanding and implementation of a regional approach to crime
control. If criminal justice agencies plan to work together to reduce crime, data and
information sharing are essential. Therefore, it is imperative that agencies are aware
of the positive outcomes associated with regional data sharing and the challenges that
can arise throughout this collaborative effort.
1California State University, Fresno, USA
2Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families, Olympia, USA
Corresponding Author:
Jordan C. Pickering, California State University, Fresno, 2576 East San Ramon Avenue, M/S ST104,
Fresno, CA 93740, USA.
Email: jpickering@csufresno.edu
1066756CJPXXX10.1177/08874034211066756Criminal Justice Policy ReviewPickering and Fox
Pickering and Fox 733
violent crime, data sharing, multi-jurisdiction collaboration, evaluation
Local criminal justice agencies, such as police and prosecutors, often work together to
curb crime in their region, both reactively and proactively. The former requires law
enforcement officials to respond to crime, identify offenders, and collect evidence that
will then be passed to prosecutors with the goal of charging and trying said offenders.
The latter requires a commitment from both parties to pinpoint regional crime issues
and collaborate on a response with the goal of preventing crime before it occurs.
Regardless of which approach these agencies decide to take, communication between
agencies is key. Prosecutors rely on police to collect crime data and identify crime
trends so that they can determine which type of criminal cases need their attention,
which can then lead to the use of targeted prosecutorial strategies. Police rely on pros-
ecutors to charge, try, and successfully convict the offenders they have identified and
apprehended, leading to a reduction in local crime through either deterrence or
Prior research findings have demonstrated that offenders do not operate within
jurisdictional boundaries (Fox et al., 2020; Lammers & Bernasco, 2013; Porter, 1996).
In fact, it is shown that the probability of arrest declines as geographical dispersion of
offenses increases (Lammers & Bernasco, 2013). That is, offenders can easily move
from area to area committing a series of crimes and this patterned behavior may go
unnoticed if police within a single jurisdiction treat such crimes as isolated incidents
within their area. Therefore, if a particular region, such as a county, has an increase in
crime, it may be beneficial for law enforcement, prosecutors, and other relevant per-
sonnel to take a data-driven, collaborative approach to crime control in the area.
We have seen a rise in multi-jurisdictional partnerships between law enforcement
and other criminal justice agencies in the United States in recent years. Such partner-
ships can occur when local, state, and federal law enforcement work together to com-
bat crime on a national scale, as is the case with fusion centers designed to combat
domestic terrorism post-September 11 (International Association of Chiefs of Police,
2002; National Institute of Justice, 2003). Others have taken a more regional approach,
with local law enforcement agencies collaborating with county prosecutors and com-
munity stakeholders to effectively address local crime issues, such as rising homicide
rates, gun-related crimes, or violent crimes more generally (Moore, 2018; San
Francisco District Attorney’s Office, 2020; Tallon et al., 2016). The aforementioned
collaborations are grounded in good intentions and thought-out plans to facilitate data
and intelligence sharing across multiple agencies to achieve a common goal, but the
reality of such a partnership may not be so simple (Sheptycki, 2004). Therefore, it is
important for scholars to empirically assess these partnership efforts to follow how
these agencies come together and collaborate in real time and under real-world condi-
tions to identify what works and what does not work when it comes to building a
multiagency regional collaboration (Sanders & Henderson, 2013).

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