One of the most critical aspects of a security professional's career is to establish strong relationships with public sector agencies — specifically law enforcement agencies. This does not mean identifying key people in various agencies and adding their contact information to your Blackberry or Rolodex. It means getting to know members of various agencies, networking with them at trade association meetings, and offering assistance if needed. Developing these types of relationships are beneficial to both the private sector security professional, but also to the members of the various law enforcement agencies in your area. Each group has different experiences and resources available that, when shared, provide insight that might not be gained anywhere else.
As with anything worthwhile, developing these relationships will take time. Ultimately these relationships will provide for the sharing of sensitive information, which involves a significant level of trust. It takes time to gain the trust of both law enforcement professionals as well as seasoned security professionals.
The only sure way to develop these relationships is through face-to-face meetings. And one of the best places to do this is by attending various trade association meetings and conferences. Organizations such as ASIS International, Infragard and the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) foster public and private sector relationships. Even better than attending meetings and conferences is to actually participate on the board or a committee for one of the local chapters. This will allow you to work side-by-side with people from different agencies and organizations. I have served as chapter president for several organizations, and I believe that these experiences were some of the most enjoyable and beneficial of my career.
As a consultant, I periodically will have a client with an issue that involves criminal activity. And often the client will have called their local law enforcement agency, which has responded that they cannot be of assistance. In these situations, I can call one of my contacts in law enforcement and can determine which agency should be contacted to report the illegal activity. An example involves a client in southern California who had an eCommerce site hosted in Kentucky . The server hosting the site was compromised and all of my client's products were illegally downloaded. The question was which agency had jurisdiction. I contacted a local FBI agent who was able to direct me to the appropriate FBI field office and told me how to report the crime. The result? Arrests and successful prosecution of the hackers.
It is important to ensure that these relationships are not one-sided. I offer assistance whenever possible. I was contacted by a detective from a local metropolitan police department, who said he had been contacted by the father of a 14-year-old girl who suspected that she was intimately involved with a 27-year-old man. He asked me to provide options that would allow the father to monitor the girl's computer activity. I made several suggestions which were passed along to the father. The result? The “boyfriend” was arrested and convicted of a sex crime.
Another option that can help to develop a strong relationship with law enforcement is to offer free or deeply discounted training opportunities. One of the many issues facing public sector organizations includes budgetary constraints. Because of this, offering free programs to law enforcement agencies is greatly appreciated. As an example, I provided a free, one-day program for the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center and suggested that the optimum class would be 30 attendees. When I arrived to teach the class, there were nearly 60 students in the room. One of the most rewarding parts of this class came several months later, when one of the students notified me that one of the concepts he learned in class helped to convict a pedophile.