More than a year ago, an article emerged alleging serious inaccuracies with an FBI database used to record otherwise critical marijuana arrest information. After months of public discourse and investigation, the Department of Justice has decided to pass the buck and assign the investigation duties to the FBI itself – the same entity that records said information. What will come of this latest development in the ongoing saga?
1. Rise of the FBI Data Discrepancy
In recent years, the discrepancies in FBI data have been on a steady rise. A fundamental misalignment between how crimes are classified and incidents are reported have led to an abundance of data discrepancies in the nation’s crime tracking reports. In many cases, the discrepancy could arise because of a variety of factors, including:
- Disparity in the collection process of law enforcement agencies
- Incongruity in the reporting practices between agencies
- Incorrect or outdated data entry
Issues arising due to this mounting data discrepancy are two folds: firstly, it risks government agencies to go after the wrong individual due to incorrect data. Secondly, it jeopardizes the public’s right to accurate information about the crime rate in their area. Thus, it is imperative to close the gap in current FBI data and address the discrepancies in order to protect the public and the justice system.
2. Facing Consequences: Department of Justice Retreats
The Department of Justice’s recent retreat from a certain case in the courts comes as a surprise to many, as a result of the mounting consequences they would have had to face. It appears that the decision was made in the face of pressure from major leagues throughout the country.
What are some of these consequences? Most prominently, there is a financial implication. The court would have forced the Department of Justice to use significant funds – from both the government and private sector – to defend its stance. In addition, there is a time implication. Various court hearings, filings and documents would take up a lot of time and resources from their department, not to mention the toll it would have taken on the existing court system. Lastly, there is a reputation implication. After a series of reports and media outcries, the department would have been unable to maintain the public’s trust in its decisions and remain objective.
- Financial implication
- Time implication
- Reputation implication
3. Taking Matters Into Its Own Hands: FBI Assuming Investigation
The FBI is well known for its penchant for solving crimes. From bank heists and jewelry robberies to high profile political cases, the bureau has moved quickly to get the job done. But increasingly, the FBI is stepping outside its normal trial-and-error approach and taking matters into its own hands—assuming responsibility and the lead in investigations of all kinds.
Here’s how the FBI is making this happen:
- Designating agents to take charge of investigations
- Utilizing confidential informants to uncover secretive details
- Performing investigative searches on its own
- Creating Task Forces with its own personnel
The bureau is also utilizing its vast resources and connections to gain information. Working alongside the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and other major law enforcement agencies, the FBI is capable of taking the most effective course of action in solving crimes. In this way, the bureau is able to take direct action from the outset of an investigation and move forward swiftly and efficiently.
4. Looking Ahead: Long Road Ahead for Data Integrity
With every passing year, it becomes more and more difficult to ensure the accuracy of data. Due to the sheer volume of data and the speed with which it is generated, manually ensuring its integrity is akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack. That is why, robotics and artificial intelligence have become essential for automating data integrity checks.
Yet, even this is not enough. We must increase our vigilance and continuously innovate in order to:
- Accurately identify fraudulent and incorrect data sourced from users, external datasets, vendors, or any other source
- Streamline the process of data auditing (and validation) with the use of analytics, automation, and other tools
- Ensure security so that sensitive corporate information is redacted when it is sent to external parties for analysis or insights
The road to reliable data integrity is long and winding. But with continued effort and dedication, we can ensure that businesses remain safe and data-driven decisions support progress and growth.
Nearly a year and a half after a pair of federal reports identified critical flaws in FBI marijuana data, the Department of Justice’s investigation of the agency’s faulty recordkeeping has finally, and justifiably, come to a close. But questions about accuracy and reliability surrounding the FBI’s data remain, and the onus of reform falls on the FBI itself– a necessary next step to ensure proper accountability moving forward.