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The World's Top Cop
(Continued from previous page)

Noble has already mapped out a number of additional changes that he wants to make. At the top of his list is a secure Web-based data system that can be used by police anywhere in the world, reducing the time required to post Interpol notices to hours or minutes. This system will have greater search and analysis capabilities than the current technology, but it will require computers that the police in many member countries do not yet have. As of last September, only 40 member countries could access the Interpol Web site from their national central bureau.

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It's not enough for police to have the technology required to share information; they also have to be willing to share it. Often police are reluctant to share intelligence with other organizations in their own country, let alone with outsiders. For Interpol to be most effective, Noble must break down barriers and increase cooperation and trust among police forces, Interpol's national central bureaus and headquarters. And he wants to forge alliances with organizations and professions that police don't usually regard as partners, such as the financial services industry, accounting firms and government regulators. "The tools we need to prevent criminal activity are not only found in the police toolbox," he observes.

Noble is also committed to developing stronger regional bases to support member countries that have similar problems and face similar threats in particular geographical areas. He has tripled the number of Interpol staff members involved in regional and national police support, and he recently created a new assistant directorate to focus on North Africa and the Middle East.

These improvements aren't cheap, and they can't be accomplished with Interpol's current budget of $28 million a year--one-tenth of the amount Osama bin Laden is estimated to have at his disposal. Noble says that Interpol will need to see a quantum increase in funding in the coming years. Some of the funding must come from member countries, but Noble is also exploring partnerships with the private sector, and he's even thinking about starting a nonprofit foundation to raise money for Interpol programs.

"The world's criminals operate on a 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year clock and they are armed with the best computers and technology," Noble says. "One way or another, we must make sure that Interpol is staffed, funded and equipped to compete with them."

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