By Leischen Stelter, editor of In Public Safety
Police officers are expected to play a role in the fight against terrorism, but are they being given the right training and tools? While large agencies are more likely to have the resources for counterterrorism training tactics, smaller agencies are often unable to provide equivalent instruction. The FBI is helping to bridge this gap by offering a unique training program taught by officers who have had first-hand experience responding to terrorist attacks.
"We realized that we needed to provide training blocks on fundamental terrorism and violent crime investigations and provide tools to enhance the capability of state and local analysts," said Special Agent Steven Shepherd, who is assigned to the Baltimore Field Office and has been with the FBI for 18 years.
In 2011, Shepherd helped his agency spearhead the creation of the Mid-Atlantic INLETS (INtelligence and Law Enforcement Training Seminar), a five day seminar aimed at delivering counterterrorism training for all levels of law enforcement. The training includes an in-depth look at violent crimes and terrorism trends.
The huge success of the INLETS seminars is largely due to its widespread support. In addition to the FBI offices in D.C. and Baltimore, the seminars are also supported by Maryland's state fusion center and InfraGard, an association between the FBI and private sector individuals representing businesses, critical infrastructure, academic institutions, and others.
INLETS has gained a reputation for featuring high-quality presenters, many of whom have responded directly to terrorism incidents and can offer lessons learned. "We're really humbled that these presenters are coming to share lessons," said Shepherd. "This isn't just a case study presentation—they discuss some of the missteps in detection and response in order to help other agencies prevent something like this from happening again."
Previous seminars featured:
- The police commander in Oslo, Norway who responded to the two sequential lone-wolf attacks in 2011 that killed 77 people and wounded 200 more
- Officers who responded to the Isla Vista attack in California
- The murder of two police officers who were ambushed in a Cici's Pizza restaurant in Las Vegas
INLETS has become so popular that it has expanded its reach across the country. The 2nd annual Gulf Coast INLETS seminar will be held on April 10-14 in New Orleans, Louisiana. A few presentations and presenters at this year's seminar include:
- The French National Police who will provide a first-hand look at the terror events that have targeted major cities in Europe.
- San Bernardino Police will share the response to the terror attack by Islamic radicals.
- Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt that followed.
This year's keynote speaker will be Captain Richard Phillips, who was captured by Somali pirates after his ship was hijacked. His story has been famously depicted in the movie, Captain Phillips.
In addition to its April Gulf Coast seminar, INLETS will hold its 7th annual Mid-Atlantic seminar in Annapolis, Maryland. This year's educational sessions will include presentations on the Dark Web, human trafficking, high-profile homicides, homegrown violent extremism, drone countermeasures and more that will be added as the seminar nears. In addition, this year's keynote speaker will be Mark "Oz" Geist, who will present an account of six American security operatives who responded the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The INLETS seminars aim to offer high-level training at an affordable cost. For officers who are not able to afford the cost of registration, INLETS offers an Above and Beyond scholarship. Nominations for the scholarship are currently being accepted.