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Breaking down silos one conversation at a time

Silos! This has been the common complaint relating to information and intelligence not being shared between agencies and, in some cases, within agencies themselves. The Ontario Gang Investigators Association (ONGIA) actively seeks to reduce information silos by bringing law enforcers together.

October 11, 2018  By Jim Aspiotis

ONGIA is made up of individuals from a diverse cross section of the justice community who are actively involved in the criminal investigations, prosecutions and supervision of gangs and organized crime groups. Established in 2001, ONGIA has adopted the motto of “Learn, Share and Stay Safe” as the driving mindset behind how the association serves its members.

ONGIA advocates for education and networking, and a way we accomplish this is through training and engagement events. Since its inception, ONGIA and ONGIA members have trained thousands of law enforcers and members of the community — from senior police command and justices to church groups and schools.

Invariably, after every training event our speakers are approached with new information or a tip. For law enforcement, institutional silos can always be broken with interpersonal connections. Silos are broken one conversation at a time.

The premier event for ONGIA is our training and development conference, which has run annually since 2001. It is the largest continually run gang conference in Canada and is an ideal venue for members of the law enforcement community to learn. Organizers carefully consider relevant topics to create learning that pays dividends. However, as important as the lectures are, we have found the networking and relationship building that happens outside the lecture hall is just as critical.


When law enforcers come together, experience and best practices are shared. Connections are built that are of immediate benefit and have lasting benefits down the road. This was recently demonstrated when a conference delegate from corrections in Northern Ontario connected with an investigator from the Toronto area. They were able to compare notes on a gang member operating far from their home base.

In the fall of 2017, ONGIA held its annual conference in Windsor, Ont. Nearly 300 delegates assembled from 60 agencies, five provinces and four states. With its current and past membership, ONGIA has connected people and agencies throughout Canada and North America.

This is an exciting time for ONGIA. The 17th annual conference is being planned and will be held in Ontario’s Muskoka region from Nov. 20-23, 2018. It will focus on the evolving trends and criminal activities that have become prevalent in this millennium, such as the movement away from street level crime into more sophisticated money-making ventures (like human trafficking and smuggling).

Additionally, today’s gang member is more ruthless, more independent, more mobile and tied to the cyber world. This has challenged law enforcement to expand intervention techniques. Technology is changing the playbook.

I hope you continue to break down your own silos by attending whatever relevant law enforcement events you can this fall and strive to make those helpful connections in and outside the lecture halls.

Jim Aspiotis is the president of ONGIA. He is also a deputy superintendent at the Toronto South Detention Centre with the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services. Reach him at

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