My name is Dallas (Ryan) Knight. I may not be Super Woman, but I am a female Intelligence Analyst and that’s pretty darn close. So how did I get here? Well, I started traveling down my career path when I was a lost 17-year-old living in Las Vegas, NV by joining the United States Army. I didn’t know at the time where this first step would take me – let alone that 19 years later I’d be continuing to help protect the world.
I joined the US Army with the intention of leveraging the financial aid for my education as well as for the real-world experience necessary to one day apply to be a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent. Six years as a military police officer and a slight derailment when I became a single mother later, I became an intelligence analyst for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department assigned to the Nevada HIDTA under the DEA.
For nine years, I had the privilege of working on an array of investigations. Las Vegas is a melting pot of people, and it is also a melting pot of crime. There were the typical (for the area) Mexican cartel related narcotic cases. Being the party city Las Vegas can be, there was a period of high ecstasy/MDMA and other similar drug cases. I even ventured into the narco-terrorist world – a very stressful and scary case.
As unique as these cases could be, there was always at least one consistency: my tools.
In 2005, we had the standard law enforcement indices available plus a few open source record vendors we leveraged. I remember a long, yellow sticky note stuck to the side of my computer monitor with a list of all the different (and separate) data sources I needed to query for any person, vehicle, location, etc. The results were printed and filed. Everything pertaining to a specific target was placed in the same manila folder and those were filed alphabetically in a file box that was designated for a specific case and stored at my feet. Anyone else operate this way 10-15 years ago? Anyone still operate this way?
We also had i2 Analyst’s Notebook (ANB). By using ANB, an entire picture of our case was manually built containing all the pertinent information and relationships – similar to what you see in the old cop shows with bad guys photos on cork board with yarn drawing out connections but in a computer program. We, the analysts, often used this picture as a way to convey the hierarchy and organization of the case to our manager, agents and task force officers, attorneys, and even juries during prosecution if necessary.
These Analyst’s Notebook charts were real works of investigative art. They were built, printed, shared, added to, reorganized, printed, shared, printed, and printed again. The ANB charts were sometimes printed with plotters on 3×10 foot displays (a couple times over, due to minor mistakes overlooked). No lines were crossed. Angles were at 90 degrees. Entities were perfectly aligned. Any of this sound familiar?
So here’s the problem: these beautiful, time consuming, information overloaded works of art pertinent to every investigation I was assigned to, ended up to be another stagnant document no one knew to exist. Well, except me, and maybe the officers that worked with me on the cases. Once the case was closed and the print outs were replaced by more current investigations, all this valuable information was just sitting in a deep, dark network folder somewhere – unable to be queried or easily leveraged in future cases. Too often a name or address would come across my desk sounding all too familiar, but I just couldn’t place it. I’d tear through folders and boxes. I’d open chart after chart. Sometimes, I’d get lucky and find the familiar data. Sometimes, I’d lay in bed at night querying my internal case files and never make the connection.
Fast forward a few years (2007 I believe), I was attending the annual i2 conference in DC and came across a complimentary solution to Analyst’s Notebook. It was a way to take all that valuable, irreplaceable information contained in those 100s of charts and store it, query it, leverage it. It’s name was iBase and I had to have it. I immediately presented my findings to my manager who welcomed a demonstration of the product to the team. Arrangements were made, a demo was completed, and my group unanimously decided this was a necessary tool.
Years and years worth of charts could now be queried. 555 Main Street sound familiar? Quick search in iBase, boom! Results, bang! Push to ANB, pow! Expand, expand, yeah! Did I mention this was a shared, collaborative environment?!
I could write a whole other blog on all the benefits of having an i2 intelligence repository to feed your Analyst’s Notebook charts – and maybe I will. However, for now I will leave you with this…
Every single day that I woke up to wear my Intelligence Analyst for the Nevada HIDTA hat was a glorious day. I loved my job. I could be sick, lack sleep, and dealing with a terrible two year old but I’d still skipped across a rainbow on my unicorn to the office every day. It gave me pride, value, and allowed me to make a difference while protecting the community. A large part of doing my job so effectively were the tools I used. I can honestly say I used i2 in one way or another every single day in my life as an intelligence analyst. I believe whole-heartedly it can help to make or break a case.
Because of my passion and belief in the i2 solutions, I crossed over to the corporate world to be a part of a sales team with IBM helping to spread i2 like wildfire. Most recently, I now represent i2 at BlueLight LLC as the Vice President of Client Success where I aim to arm analysts and investigators all over the world with (what I strongly feel is) the best analysis and investigative tools on the shelf and ensure their success. Afterall, a weapon is only as accurate as the person shooting it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and allowing me to share my i2 journey with you. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I look forward to chatting with you the next time.
Vice President of Client Success
Blue Light LLC