A Mixed Methods Social Network Analysis of San Diego Law Enforcement Task Forces and Agencies


  • Nathan P. Jones Sam Houston State University
  • Russell Lundberg Sam Houston State University
  • Matthew O’Deane Adjunct Professor, University of San Diego




social network analysis, task force, police, centrality, counternarcotics, San Diego County, California


The San Diego area has a long reputation as a highly networked, cooperative, and task force-oriented law enforcement region. Measuring and understanding how this region achieves its networked state could assist other regions in improving law enforcement functions. This article uses social network analysis to qualitatively and quantitatively map the network of law enforcement agency task forces in the San Diego County region. The analysis first provides an inventory and description of San Diego area law enforcement task forces and participating agencies, then analyzes the structure of the regional network. The analysis identified 33 law enforcement investigative task forces supported by 84 law enforcement and participating agencies in the San Diego area. These comprise a relatively dense network with a well-connected core of primarily federal and local agencies, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations being the most central federal agencies, and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department, as well as San Diego, National City, and Chula Vista police departments as the most central local agencies. State agencies were less central but included the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol in the top 10 agencies for centrality, depending on the metric. The network mapping in this article provides a baseline for a highly connected task force region that will allow future comparison with other regions and similarly situated cities along the US-Mexico border and beyond. Policy recommendations based on network theory are provided.

Author Biographies

Nathan P. Jones, Sam Houston State University

Dr. Jones is an Associate Professor of Security Studies at Sam Houston State University. He is the author of Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction (2016) with Georgetown University Press. He is also a Small Wars Journal–El Centro Senior Fellow and a Non-Resident Scholar with Rice University’s Baker Institute in US-Mexico Studies and Drug Policy.

Russell Lundberg, Sam Houston State University

Dr. Lundberg is an Associate Professor of Security Studies at Sam Houston State University. He received his PhD in policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He is a policy analyst by training, evaluating policy and practice in light of deeply uncertain risks.

Matthew O’Deane, Adjunct Professor, University of San Diego

Dr. O’Deane is a Senior Law Enforcement Consultant for the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). He has a PhD in Public Policy and Administration, a master’s degree in Public Administration, and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Dr. O’Deane worked for 28 years in law enforcement with the National City Police Department and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.






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