A Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO) is a individual that functions as the principle point of contact for a public safety agency in matters related to terrorism information. The TLO, though not necessarily an expert in terrorism, attends meetings and receives terrorism training and information from the local Fusion Center, or other local entities engaged in terrorism intelligence or investigations. The TLO then educates others within his or her department or area of responsibility.
TLOs are a vital link in keeping those engaged in public safety professions aware of current terrorist tactics, techniques, and practices. Through the diligent performance of their duties, public safety personnel are alerted to terrorism indicators and warnings that might otherwise go unreported.
TLOs are typically contacted when suspicious activities are witnessed that could potentially be related to terrorism. They in turn forward the lead or Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to their local police, Fusion Center, or the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
TLOs raise the level of prevention and preparedness within our communities and better prepare public safety personnel to deal effectively with the threat of terrorism.
What if my department doesn’t have a TLO?
This is easy. After securing the necessary approval from your agency, contact your local Fusion Center. They will assist you in getting started and will direct you to the appropriate contact person in your area.
What are some of the typical duties for a TLO?
Duties and responsibilities of the TLO may include the following:
- The collecting, reporting, retrieving, and sharing of materials related to terrorism.
- The source person for internal or external inquiry.
- The contact for communicating with community stakeholders in matters related to terrorism.
- The contact person for community and private sector relationships.
- The person who conducts, coordinates, and/or facilitates departmental training with regard to terrorism and terrorist related subjects.
- The person who conducts, coordinates, and/or facilitates community meetings, conferences, and other information sharing activities.
- The designated agency representative to the JTTF, Terrorism Early Warning Group (TEW), or Fusion Center.
Do all TLOs perform the same duties?
No. TLOs can be representatives of police, fire, and public health agencies. Each of these disciplines has unique needs in dealing with the threat of terrorism. Although the education and information received is frequently the same, the role that these agencies play are quite different, therefore information is frequently provided according to the need, and training needs will differ at times.
Are there requirements to become a TLO?
Requirements to serve as a TLO vary from agency to agency. What is most desired in a prospective TLO is good communication skills and a passion for learning about the threat of terrorism and ways to protect our communities.
TLOs should be willing to contribute and give of themselves to the overriding public interest. Reluctant, and/or “ordered,” acceptance of the position will quite probably lead to an unsuccessful outcome.
The TLO must be willing to seek and attend additional education and training that will enhance their ability to perform in this challenging role.
TLOs fill a necessary and vital part of an overall national strategy to counter the threat of terrorism in the United States.
What is the origin of the TLO Program?
Shortly after 9/11, the police chiefs in South Bay, California organized a Terrorism Advisory Group as an effort apart from the existing Los Angeles County Terrorism Early Warning Group (TEW). One of the concepts that came out of this effort was that each agency designated a Terrorism Liaison Officer. These officers became the central point of contact for all terrorism-related information for their respective agencies. But there were limitations.
Recognizing the extraordinary potential for the TLO Program to be a force-multiplier in countering the threat of terrorism, the concept was adopted by the Los Angeles County TEW. The model proved to be a tremendous success and has now expanded nationwide. Fusion Centers are now the principal points of coordination for the TLO Program.
Because the multi-disciplinary approach to information sharing is vital to the success of any terrorism-related response, the TLO Program has been expanded to include fire department and public health representatives.