Terror Liaison Officer Training
By J.T. McBride, M.P.A., C.L.E.E.
Ohio law enforcement organizations’ counterterrorism efforts include special training offered by the Homeland Security Division of the state’s Department of Public Safety. Program graduates earn certification as terrorist liaison officers (TLOs). State and local officials carefully select qualified law enforcement officers to attend these sessions. Law enforcement agencies in Ohio currently retain over 300 TLOs and state officials plan to increase that number to over 500. The course, national in scope, inspired similar instruction in other states.
As highly skilled, community-oriented, and specially trained law enforcement officers, TLOs identify potential terror-related situations and behavior. They evaluate and collect data and share it with the proper officials. These TLOs enhance levels of terrorism awareness within their own agencies.
TLOs learn to discern suspicious criminal or terror-related activity, gather supplemental information, and report it for processing and assessment. They serve as vital links between law enforcement agencies and the community, working closely with state and federal officials to protect the country from terror-related threats.
In Ohio, agencies forward information gathered by trained TLOs to the state Homeland Security Strategic Analysis and Information Center (SAIC) in Columbus.1 The center assists law enforcement agencies, intelligence officials, and other government authorities with information sharing. SAIC staff document, screen, analyze, and evaluate data before sharing it with participating agencies throughout the state. Law enforcement organizations prepare for threats by locating and handling potential terror-related activities in a timely and effective manner.
Mr. McBride retired as chief of the campus police department of Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio, where he currently serves as a criminal justice instructor.
Initially taught as a three-day class, the TLO program evolved into a one-day session. The course provides an intense learning experience with curriculum that includes:
- Homeland security regional plan overview;
- TLO program overview;
- Role of the TLO;
- Information collection, processing, and sharing;
- Early identification technology;
- Law Enforcement State Homeland Security Program (LE SHSP);
- Signs of terrorism;
- Domestic threats and trends;
- Homeland security-affiliated programs;
- State fire marshal TLO operations;
- Government forms;
- Fusion centers;
- Fraudulent documents;
- Radicalization of terrorists; and
- An after-action review.
Instructors emphasize the importance of networking and team building and stress the value of local, regional, state, and federal cooperation and information sharing.
As more law enforcement agencies become aware of this unique training opportunity, enrollment in the program will increase. Growth of the program enhances its odds of success. Because all terror events are local in terms of initial response, involving community law enforcement in effective intelligence networking systems proves most important. Proactive preparation for potential threats serves as an invaluable component of contemporary law enforcement. Sheriffs and agency chiefs should consider TLO training when seeking economical ways to update the critical skills of their personnel.
1 http://www.homelandsecurity.ohio.gov (accessed January 3, 2012).
“Proactive preparation for potential threats serves as an invaluable component of contemporary law enforcement.”
Major partners in this national project include the FBI and the National Center for Infrastructure Protection (NCIP). For more information, contact LE-SHSP Coordinator Andrew J. Stefanik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-752-5560.