Network Vulnerabilities and Strategic Intelligence in Law Enforcement

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This seminal 1991 article examines the strategic applications of network analysis methodologies for law enforcement. While the article pre-dates the rise of social media, and therefore does not include social media in its analysis, it is a foundational work from which social media network scholars and experts in Social Network Analysis (SNA) have drawn from extensively. The author argues that many key analytical questions asked by law enforcement officials are in fact network questions. These include: Who is central to this organization? Which names in this database appear to be aliases? Which three individuals’ removal or incapacitation would sever a drug-supply network? Which communications links are most worth monitoring? The author further discusses several network analysis concepts, which, he argues, are applicable in answering these types of analytical questions and can help law enforcement agencies target vulnerabilities within a given network.

This article will be of particular use to researchers and practitioners interested in examining network analysis for current social media applications, including the origins of SNA use in law enforcement. The article outlines some of the key terms used in social media analysis and SNA, including: node centrality, degree, betweeness, closeness, network connections, point strength, business, equivalence, substitutability, blockmodelling, role equivalency, and weak ties. The article further outlines the use of Euclidean Centrality after Multidimensional Scaling, in order to arrange the nodes of a network in n-dimensional space (scaling).

Full article is available here >>

Malcolm Sparrow

January 1991