Professionals from multiple international law enforcement agencies engaged in the first-ever law enforcement panel session as part of the 12th annual Africa Endeavor 2017 (AE17) Leader Symposium here Aug. 22.
Interagency personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard; Kenyan National Police; Ghana’s Financial Intelligence Centre; U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Homeland Security Investigations); and the Ending Illegal Fishing Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts came together with the purpose of raising awareness of how law enforcement entities in multiple countries work together to conduct and coordinate law enforcement activities on the continent, and provide a better understanding of the challenges, risks, and constraints of the operational environment for law enforcement.
“There is a real connection between what law enforcement does and what the military does, especially when you talk about information sharing capabilities,” said Coast Guard Capt. Chris Conley, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Counter Narcotics and Transnational Threats Programs (CNTTP) Division Chief.
“Events like Africa Endeavor are important because of the connectivity,” said Sean Henry Osei, Financial Intelligence Spokesperson for Ghana’s Financial Intelligence Center. “It’s about coming together and sharing ideas and learning how other people do things.”
Panelists talked through examples and case studies based on their own personal experiences and talked through various initiatives that their respective agencies successfully implemented utilizing emerging technologies in an effort to better their programs. With a focus on combating Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) and illicit trafficking across the continent, and how communications enables them to successfully do their work, the representatives shared anecdotes and stories from the field where technology and in some cases transnational communication made the difference in the success of their programs.
“Africa Endeavor is an opportunity for us to share emerging trends because crime is always evolving,” said Osei. “Programs like this grant us the opportunity to establish reinforcements to help us not necessarily eradicate but mitigate the circumstances surrounding these trends.”
A communications-related symposium, AE17 is the first year law enforcement members have been invited to take part. According to Conley, while AE does focus on communications and establishing common practices and standard operating procedures, it does have a profound effect on fields such as law enforcement, that rely upon effective communications in order to be successful.
“Technology and communication are separate but related things because we need technology in order to keep up with our adversaries,” said Conley. “In the end, it’s really about the ability to share vital information.”
In partnership with the Malawi Defence Force, Africa Endeavor is an annual senior leader and communications symposium designed to help develop multinational communications practices for peacekeeping and disaster response missions mandated by the African Union and the United Nations. More than 40 nations from across Africa, Europe and the United States are taking part in AE17.