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(Left to right: Terry Wyllie, External Training and Outreach Coordinator, TSC; John Novak, Deputy Director – Outreach, TSC; Bill Muldoon, President, International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards & Training (IADLEST); Mike Becar, Executive Director, CEO, IADLEST; Dr. Leo McArdle, Training Group, TSC; Terry Cahill, Assistant Deputy Director of Domestic Outreach, TSC)

IADLEST Executives Visit to the Terrorist Screening Center (TSC)

On Tuesday, October 9th, Bill Muldoon, President, and Mike Becar, Executive Director, visited the Terrorist Screening Center for discussions and a tour with Executive Leadership. During their visit, they engaged in meaningful discussion on the TSC’s role and responsibilities on officer safety, counterterrorism and the role of state, local, territorial and tribal law enforcement in national security.

The TSC was established as a result of Homeland Security Presidential Directive-6 (HSPD-6) in September 2003 and is responsible for managing the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB), also known as the Terrorist Watchlist. The TSC, with a staff of nearly 500, provides 24/7 365-day coverage for law enforcement and intelligence community. Prior to September 11th, 12 separate and distinct databases existed which contained some form of terrorist identity information and did not leverage the capability and capacity of each other. HSPD-6 assigned the TSC with the responsibility to build and deploy an integrated approach to terrorist screening for the U.S.

During the meeting, TSC discussed with President Muldoon and Executive Director Becar the importance of greater collaboration and integration of TSC training for the 18,000+ law enforcement agencies in the U.S. TSC stressed that it was critical for officer safety to ensure that local law enforcement took full advantage of the TSDB and the capabilities that the TSC call center can provide. When working properly, the TSC Law Enforcement Partnership is a “force multiplier” in the fight against terrorism. Training and execution provides the opportunity to possibly save an officers life while protecting communities and strengthening our National Security.

Each week in the U.S., hundreds of known or suspected terrorists are stopped by state, local and tribal law enforcement for all sorts of reasons unrelated to terrorism. But only after a quick screening with the Terrorist Watchlist (a process similar to screening for wants and warrants) can individuals be verified as a positive match for potentially having terrorist ties.

In fact, three of the 9/11 hijackers—Mohammed Atta, Ziad Jarrah and Hani Hanjour—were stopped by state or local law enforcement for routine traffic violations in the days leading up to the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history. In those days, however, there was no central system to identify them as having an association with terrorism. Thankfully, that has all changed. Today, state and local law enforcement have a willing partner to help improve officer safety, strengthen national security and expand U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

TSC Director Tim Healy states, “If the TSC [had been] operational prior to 9/11 and the process worked as it does today, it could have made that horrible day entirely different. Since the first day we stood up the TSC operations center, we have always pushed to create a seamless relationship between federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement.” Healy continues, “One call can make an enormous difference. The officer gets important information, the intelligence community gets important information and our communities and our country are safer. So a big part of what we do is work with law enforcement agencies to open this conversation and make the call. Hundreds of thousands of lives are on the line.”

One simple phone call to a specialist at TSC’s 24/7 operations center is all it takes to verify if it’s indeed a positive match. The process takes as little as five to 10 minutes for an average stop.

Once connected, a TSC operations specialist works through a series of standard questions with dispatchers so that officers can elicit enough information to make an identity determination.

After a positive match is made, the information flow begins, all to the benefit of enhanced national and homeland security.

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