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Transnational Policing

Boston & Tucson, Arizona: January 19th-29th 2009

          Police Group


The Transnational Policing program brought together ten individuals from police and justice bodies in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in order to explore more effective strategies for tackling cross-border criminal activities. While in the United States, participants met with federal, state and local law enforcement officials, and with representatives of non-governmental organizations. They examined investigative tactics for disrupting criminal networks associated with terrorism, human trafficking, cross-border smuggling and the international drug trade.

The Transnational Policing program allowed participants to share with their American counterparts effective law enforcement strategies and to discuss the many complex issues presented by international and border policing.  It also served to create and expand valuable professional networks and contacts within their field. The site visits helped to place these strategies in context, and illustrated the challenges and successes of American transnational policing policy.

The program participants included members of the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform (Republic of Ireland), the Northern Ireland Policing Board  and An Garda Síochána (the police force of the Republic of Ireland). The diversity of their individual expertise in areas such as financial investigation, drug and human trafficking investigations, and counter-terrorism helped encourage dialogue and networking among the participants.

The first week of the program took place in Boston, Massachusetts, where the group attended academic seminars addressing relevant issues in international policing. One such seminar was entitled The Informal Conveyance of Funds Within Criminal Enterprises, and was presented by Dr. Nikos Passas, Professor of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University. The group also met with several law enforcement agencies in the Boston area, including: the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where participants met with Supervisor Richard Teahan, Special Agent and Coordinator of the Bulger Task Force; the Commanding and Executive Officers of The Commonwealth Fusion Center, the state’s intelligence analysis agency; Special Agent in Charge Bruce Foucart of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Justice Department officials including U.S. Attorney and former Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Michael J. Sullivan and his staff. The group then met with Boston Police Department officials including Deputy Superintendent Paul Fitzgerald and the Commanders of the Special Investigations Unit and the Human Trafficking Unit. While in Boston, participants also had the opportunity to view live coverage of the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  One member of the group described this experience as “a good opportunity to view a central element of US democracy in action.”

The second week of the Transnational Policing program saw the group travel to Tucson, Arizona. Due to the region’s proximity to the US-Mexico border, state, local and federal officials in Arizona have considerable experience combating transnational criminal activity. In Tucson, the group met with officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including officers from Border Patrol and the U.S Customs and Border Protection outpost at the Tucson Port of Entry (located in Nogales). They met with representatives from the Border Action Network, an NGO working to protect human rights of immigrant and border communities. The visitors were hosted at a specially convened meeting that included high ranking law enforcement officials from the Southwest Border Partnership Office of National Drug Control Policy (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection, the Arizona Army Guard and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the U.S. Marshal among others.   Supplementing the Arizona meetings and site visits was a seminar entitled The History of US/Mexico Border and Immigration, presented by Professor Andrew Silverman (University of Arizona).

The highlight of the trip was the site visit to the Tucson Port of Entry, the border crossing at Nogales Arizona. Ninety minutes south of Tucson, the Nogales area has a long history of border control issues. The visit provided the group with an in-depth look at the latest strategies and technologies used to combat cross-border criminal activity in one of the busiest ports of entry in the United States. One participant described the Nogales visit as “a great overview of how a potentially complex model involving numerous state, local and federal agencies can combine their intelligence efforts for a single purpose.”