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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

July 2018 | Volume 11 | Issue 7

Following the 2012 school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, the Illinois State Police’s Statewide Terrorism & Intelligence Center  (STIC) proposed expanding its already successful information -sharing programs to include school officials and school resource officers. This expansion was supported by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.

The School Safety Information Sharing Program at Illinois’ STIC is stepping into its fifth year of viability. Though periodic, self-imposed internal reviews have occurred for program effectiveness, this five-year marker encompasses a greater timeframe to discuss deliverables and outcomes for optimal and continued success. It is important to review and analyze past events with continued due diligence for present indicators and future preparedness of the force multiplier: information sharing. The School Intelligence Officer (SIO) is the focal point and conduit who accomplishes these tasks and coordinates program membership.

Violence occurs at schools and campuses across the country. An adept program is necessary to glean intelligence for analysis and purpose-of-use for future response and security approaches. Tracked events and information shared with program members can impact both current and future planning and decision-making. Strategies that are dynamic and attuned to these events build on lessons learned and cultivate adaptable approaches with real-world application that are key to program cogency.

As part of the larger macrocosm that comprises the STIC Public Safety Group, the School Safety Information Sharing Program shares information with other programs to include infrastructure security, fire service, emergency management, cyber security, public health, and disaster intelligence. Shared information demonstrates its merit through proactive approaches that keep partners engaged. A key aspect that opens these silos of sector information is the “mashing” of collective, multi-discipline data. Being a part of these programs provides access to an array of intelligence that would not be available otherwise.

There are two exclusive features to the Illinois STIC program that paint broad strokes over the educational stages palette.    The first feature is membership representation from K-12 schools and college campuses. The second feature consists of the types and trends of information shared via the STIC. Both aspects enhance scope and coverage of an information continuum for parties engaged in the program. In return, these members serve as consumers, collaborators, and contributors to a broader multi-discipline continuum.

Target Members for the Program include:

  • Administrators
  • Personnel in charge of making safety/security decisions in schools and on campuses
  • Sworn police officers involved in school and campus safety

Reasons to Join:

  • School Resource Officers (SROs) receive Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES) information
  • Educationalists and officials in charge of school safety and security receive For Official Use Only (FOUO) information
  • Access to monthly newsletters and webinars
  • A dedicated, full-time School Intelligence Officer (SIO)
  • A network of partners for collaboration on mutual interests/concerns

Which Can You Be?

  • Consumer: Use threat information to enhance situational awareness, inform preparedness activities, and identify and respond to threats
  • Collaborator: Provide expertise and context to threats and vulnerabilities to support analysis of information
  • Contributor: Share information, trends, and emerging issues as actionable intelligence
  • Any or all of the above


  • Administrators and school safety/security officials who fill out an application, sign a nondisclosure agreement, and are vetted become program members who can receive open source information and FOUO material.  Members have access to trends in Illinois and throughout the United States, free school or campus safety training and resources, and other information to improve safety and security.
  • Law enforcement officers as SROs sign nondisclosures and join both the School Safety Information Sharing FOUO and LES distribution lists. Law enforcement centric information is provided; and as a result, improved information sharing occurs between these officers directly involved in schools and campuses through the program.
  • Program information is disseminated to school members across the state based on geographical areas defined by the Regional Offices of Education (ROE).

Responsibilities of the SIO include:

  • Program manager
  • Provides subject matter expertise
  • Program planning, governance, and oversight
  • Daily oversight and interactions
  • Monitoring program processes
  • Prepares monthly webinars and quarterly newsletters
  • Interacts with other STIC information sharing program managers on a daily basis
  • Interacts with program partners daily to provide assistance
  • Reviews membership and continues outreach methodologies
  • Conducts in-person site visits with administrators and officials engaged in school safety and security
  • Attends conferences, forums, and training opportunities to stay current regarding program issues

Information Shared:

  • Analysis of national and local trends
  • Terrorism
  • Emergent radical publications
  • Threats and vulnerabilities
  • Incidents of school/campus violence
  • Facilities as soft targets and hardening soft targets
  • Cyber-attacks/intrusions, information technology (IT) preventative actions
  • Narcotic use, trafficking, arrests, prevention, and treatments
  • School and campus concerns to include:
    • Bystander decisions to report vs not report
    • Prior, online, and inspirational student behaviors
    • Social media activities and suicide correlations
    • Copycat phenomena

Program Benefits:

  1. Illinois’ School Safety Information Sharing Program engages officials from both K-12 schools and campuses across the state. This is an encircling approach as information is shared with administrators and officials at all educational stages, as well as sworn law enforcement officers dedicated to school and campus safety and security.
  2. The information shared and reported by program members contributes to a larger pool of situational awareness, actionable intelligence, and threat identification and response.
  3. The current School Intelligence Officer has been managing the program since its inception, providing continuity, stability, and continued integration into a fusion center information sharing environment.

An Interview with Randy Allen, Director of Safety and Security, Ball-Chatham School District

This interview was conducted to capture how information is used by a practitioner/program member during daily operations, the value of the content, and the merits of membership.

Director Allen has a twofold standpoint, since he was first an SRO and now serves as Director of Safety and Security. Perspective and comments included:

  • The program did not exist during Allen’s SRO tenure, but started during his term as Director. Subject matter before the program started was researched by the individual, which took away from time spent with students, staff, and arising safety/security issues.
  • For Allen, the program functions as a repository and clearinghouse, sharing timely and germane information, specific in details and providing analysis of data and information.
  • Allen champions the SIO for managing the program as a members’ one-stop-shop for  topical information that is easily accessible through available communication mediums.
  • As a member, use of program information includes practical applications, planning and policy, strategizing for school safety and security, and trending issues.
  • For members, there are opportunities to learn about peer activities and lessons learned across the state and nation.
  • As a thought, Allen added the need to balance the past, when schools were built with an emphasis on creating a conducive learning environment, with today, where there is a requirement for concerted awareness of both physical and cyber security. Finding that balance between these two emphases can be challenging, but necessary.
  • Additionally, Allen conducts annual training exercises with administrators, teachers, and students for a review of the school emergency response and safety plans. He accesses program information and an app as aids for preparation.
  • Director Allen’s approach to community policing: interact, communicate, and defuse.

Spotlighting Concerns - The Program is Listening

The following issues are examples of the buzz around school and campus safety and security that warrant attentiveness, further discussion, and proposed solutions.

  1. System failure – lack of communication with leakers, parents, children, and teachers
  2. Heed communication deficiencies between students and teachers/administrators
  3. Bridge gaps between educators and law enforcement officers:
    • Different interpretations exist for identifying suspicious activities at schools and reporting it
    • Shared terminology of issues for better communication
    • Active shooter verses school shooter terms
    • Understanding the threat world
    • Ensure school policy on how to handle threats and training for all staff
  4. Awareness/understanding copycat behaviors, prior, online, and inspiration behaviors.
  5. Social media activities and suicide. “It’s forcing teachers to be more aware and confront issues related to youth suicides.”1
  6. Regarding school attacks, a new generation of children and issues exists and teachers need to be prepared
  7. Information Silos - within the school/campus environments, within law enforcement, within the educational hierarchy
  8. SROs
    • COPS model 2 as SROs serve as law enforcer, informal counselor, educator, and emergency manager. Are all these role components recognized and applied?
    • Change the voluntary training program for COPS-funded SROs and administrators to mandatory training.
    • Receive training in threats to schools.
    • Receive training in youth mental health issues.
    • Receive training in building/facility vulnerability assessment.
    • Understanding where school and criminal codes intersect and where they do not.


The program has been built around fusion center standards and its viability can be attributed to being a part of this information- sharing body. The program’s sustainability can also be attributed to program partners who share mutual interests in safer students from safer and more secure schools and campuses. The program has the capability to bring the keepers of these undertakings together to comprise a tenacious, steadfast platform.

Challenges ahead include addressing the concerns that are still impacting schools and campuses as listed in Spotlighting Concerns – The Program is Listening. These “matters matter,” and need attention from a program perspective that brings practitioners together for discourse and problem solving. Additionally, the program requires attention for continued growth and successes. One way to evaluate continued growth and success is to conduct an internal gap analysis of program strategies for necessary changes, fine-tuned adjustments, or value-added approaches to information sharing. Another aspect of evaluation is to identify new methods to monitor the pulse of the program and measure the effectiveness of information shared. Pinpointing types of information to share and programmatically observing how all partners are engaged will determine what has been successful for maturity. Continued expansion of membership and timely dissemination of shared information will also allow for program growth.

The Community Policing (CP) model has evolved over time to keep instep with the changing dynamics of today’s communities. Community p olicing in schools is a slice of the bigger CP picture, at large. Authority awareness of the uniform effect, employing non-punitive techniques when acceptable, relating to students, and building relationships are all part of working in a school setting as well. CP also creates an atmosphere where safety and security are required to protect students and safeguard the academic environment, which will, in turn, help the community.

For the School Safety Information Sharing program as a whole, a forum should be convened with other states that have similar programs or no programs at all. The forum would be an opportunity to see what is happening across the country with other state programs, as well as build on the successes of others. It would also a chance to ignite interest and develop programs in states that do not yet have a structure. This will aid in seeking answers, solutions, and commitments to school and campus safety.

Elizabeth Simpson
COPS Office

1.Montgomery, Rick; Williams, Mara Rose; and Ryan, Kelsey. (2017, December 10). Teen suicides are reaching record highs, forcing schools to ‘break the silence.’ The Kansas City Star., Accessed on 12/18/2017.

2.What is a School Resource Officer? (n.d.). U.S. Department of Justice., Accessed on 12/18/2017.

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