INtelligence and Law Enforcement Training Seminar
By Amylynn Errera, M.A.
Since 2001 the FBI increasingly has turned its attention to large-scale and international criminal and national security challenges, while state and local police forces have shouldered much of the burden of investigating complex criminal and counterterrorism matters. Nearly half of the police departments in the United States employ less than 10 sworn officers, and agencies of all sizes struggle with tight budgets that typically prioritize operations over training.
In 2011 the FBI’s Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., offices partnered with the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC), one of the first fusion centers in the United States to combine information sharing and analysis, and InfraGard, a nonprofit collaborative partnership between the FBI and public and private entities aligned with critical infrastructure, to design a 3-day conference in which large agencies could share their expertise and resources with smaller departments.1 The conference focused on trends in violent crime and terrorism, innovative investigative techniques, current threats, and lessons learned. Attendees desired more training, so the conference grew to 4 days and then to 5.
The INtelligence and Law Enforcement Training Seminar (INLETS) annual conference includes general keynote sessions, concurrent specialized blocks, and multiday workshops (akin to miniature focused courses). The keynote sessions cover topics, such as cartels on the U.S./Mexico border, a survivor’s perspective on the recent Virginia Tech shootings, and terrorism trends in the homeland. Concurrent blocks include presentations on sextortion cases, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and human trafficking. Multiday workshops train attendees in social media exploitation, crime scenes involving improvised explosive devices, and violence targeted toward public figures.
A police lieutenant attended an INLETS conference session about missing special-needs children. He shared his knowledge with a colleague searching for an autistic missing child, who later was located near a body of water as the INLETS presenter had discussed.
An FBI agent learned at an INLETS session how to prosecute a homicide involving a missing body. She later relied on the presenter to assist in a similar successful prosecution in her territory.
A briefing on landfill searches benefited a police officer. He later used what he learned to find the body of a girl whose mother had killed and disposed of her in a dumpster.
The 2015 INLETS conference will take place during June 22 to 26 in Annapolis, Maryland. Attendance is limited to law enforcement investigators and analysts, campus police and safety departments, U.S. Defense Department personnel, and InfraGard practitioners.
The conference includes training by an international partner. In 2013 a detective inspector from New Scotland Yard briefed attendees on four suicide bombing attacks in London in July 2005. Last year a police commander from the Norwegian Police Service discussed a lone-wolf attack in 2011 in which 77 people died and 200 were injured. This year a commandant from the French National Police will address the recent attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.
“The lecture on sovereign citizens opened my eyes to who they are and what they are about. I have had many instances here regarding sovereigns who have been arrested…. One [subject] in particular filed liens [against] some of the judges, as well as an assistant district attorney. We not only got everything dismissed, [but] we contacted the State Department and had him deported to India. The contact list of attendees also has proven valuable [because] I have contacted…other agencies when I needed assistance in their jurisdictions. Keep up the good training!”
In the conference’s first 4 years, more than 3,000 people attended, representing 300 agencies in 23 states. Many attendees paid for lodging, transportation, and registration fees from their personal funds. In 2015 the INLETS planning committee has invited state and local police departments to nominate outstanding analysts and officers to receive the Above and Beyond Scholarship Award for exceptional service. Recipients will receive a scholarship to cover the costs of lodging and conference registration (roughly $700). Award winners will be honored at a dinner during the conference.
In addition to the annual weekly conference in Annapolis, Maryland, INLETS offers monthly brown-bag briefings and quarterly full-day sessions in the mid-Atlantic region, in which the majority of INLETS attendees reside. To make the training available to security and law enforcement professionals in other areas, INLETS is expanding to include a week-long conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, in October.
Organizers point to the triad—MCAC, the FBI, and InfraGard—as the keys to INLETS’ success. MCAC handles logistics and provides financial support because it recognizes the extent to which state and local law enforcement agencies benefit from such in-depth training. The Washington, D.C., InfraGard chapter (the National Capital Region Members Alliance) serves as a fiduciary agent and assists with publicizing INLETS.
The FBI’s Baltimore and Washington offices identify and recruit expert presenters who can help attendees improve their investigative and analytical skills. As INLETS grows into other jurisdictions—so far, New Orleans in 2015 and the West Coast and Midwest in 2016—it will rely on local fusion centers, FBI offices, and InfraGard chapters to jointly plan an annual conference in select cities.
Special Agent Errera serves in the FBI’s Washington, D.C., office. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information, including registration details and how to nominate an analyst or officer for the Above and Beyond Scholarship Award, can be obtained at https://www.infragard.org/pKxHCxee%2525252F1BoBZruXWMmM29wXz2KAT1kECWF%2525252BCLriWk%2525253D.