Intelligence center's role has changed over its five-year life
The Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center is commemorating its five-year anniversary this month, and state and local police say the center remains an important resource for law enforcement personnel.
Illinois State Police Trooper Brent Massingill said the STIC, headquartered in Springfield, has become a valuable source of information for Illinois police agencies on issues such as terrorism, drug activity, Internet crimes, and violent crimes.
“It started out dealing mainly with terrorism, but it’s now more of an intelligence resource,” said Massingill, a safety education officer with District 16 of the state police. “If we’ve got a question about a certain individual [we’ve arrested], we can check with them and they can give us more information.”
The STIC is a 24/7 all-crimes “fusion center” staffed by analytical personnel from the state police, Illinois National Guard, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Department of Homeland Security, according to a state police news release. The facility became fully functional in May 2003, after Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appropriated $1 million to establish it.
The facility was one of the first 24/7 state fusion centers to emerge after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Although the initial focus of the center was gathering intelligence regarding terrorism, the facility’s objectives have broadened significantly over the years, said Lt. Luis Gutierrez of the state police.
Terrorism is still a large component of the center’s work, but the facility has also become a major resource for police agencies on issues such as drug interdiction and violent crime, Gutierrez said.
The primary benefit of the STIC is it gives police officials a “one-stop resource” for information on criminal activity, Gutierrez said.
Analysts at the center perform a comprehensive search of all available databases and resources to find information for law enforcement agencies, the news release states. This means an officer will not have to make a series of “independent, time-consuming” contacts to get a fraction of this information, the release states.
“Before, they had to call individual agencies to get information,” Gutierrez said. “With this, it’s all in one place. It’s very effective as a resource.”
The STIC also periodically issues news bulletins to state law enforcement agencies based on intelligence the center has obtained. For example, the center has issued bulletins reminding police officers of the anniversary of the Columbine school shootings, Massingill said. Often, police officers receive these bulletins on their squad car computers, he said.
In November 2005, the STIC moved its operation to the newly constructed Statewide Emergency Operations Center in Springfield, which is home to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The STIC received a Special Achievement Award from the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit in April 2008, for “outstanding contributions to the law enforcement intelligence community,” the release states.