Task Force partners CDCR, FBI and Federal Bureau of Prisons
The CDCR Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) Criminal Intelligence Analysis Unit (CIAU) is a founding partner of the Correctional Intelligence Task Force (CITF).
The CITF was established in 2010 to serve as a joint intelligence task force consisting of personnel from three agencies:
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)
- and CDCR.
Since its creation, CITF has grown exponentially, partnering with:
- Department of Homeland Security
- Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office
- Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC)
- Alaska DOC
- Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
- Idaho DOC
- Indiana DOC
- Montana DOC
- Nevada DOC
- South Carolina DOC
- Tennessee DOC
- North Carolina Department of Public Safety
- and other local agencies throughout the country.
While CITF’s initial focus was gang intelligence, it soon became apparent to share intelligence gathered on radicalization and violent extremism. With the OCS CIAU Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO) Program established since 2007, CIAU partnered with CITF for the intelligence aspect.
What is the Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO)?
The OCS CIAU is tasked with overseeing CDCR’s TLO Program. The purpose of establishing the TLO Program was to create guidelines for CDCR staff in monitoring, reporting, and disseminating information involving inmate radicalization and violent extremism within CDCR.
The CDCR TLO provides training to institution staff in the event inmates are identified with having radical ideologies, to educate on how to safely and judiciously investigate and end these activities.
The CIAU Special Agent serves as the department’s statewide TLO coordinator, conducting investigations related to CDCDR regarding Violent Extremism/Terrorism Investigations. The TLO coordinator works with local District Attorney’s Offices and the United States Attorney’s Office for vertical prosecution.
Prison radicalization is not new and has always been around. Extremist groups easily target the incarcerated population for recruitment. Meanwhile those who are already radicalized prior to entering a prison often promote their ideology to those who are susceptible.
An incarcerated person may be especially susceptible for many reasons, including:
- seeking protection
- standing up to what they perceive as injustice
- or simply wanting to belong to a group.
Inmates with criminal network experience may have an illicit skillset or ability to obtain resources to facilitate acts of terrorism. Violent extremists may communicate with one another while incarcerated through contraband phones or other means of coded messages. Early identification is key to prevent violent incidents inside prisons and in our communities.
What kind of work is being done by the TLO?
Much of TLO’s work is highly sensitive, so is not publicly known. One example of their work includes investigating an extremist group who was ordering violent robberies in the community. Co-conspirators were trained in covert operations, obtaining weapons and explosives. Through their investigation, TLO quashed several planned attacks, including against military facilities, foreign government targets, airports, and churches. The incarcerated suspect was convicted of conspiracy to levy war against the United States and served a federal prison term. Once released, OCS and the FBI continued to monitor the individual, who was rearrested and federally prosecuted for drug crimes.
How is CDCR involved in the Joint Terrorism Task Force?
The CIAU Special Agent is also assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). This Task Force Officer has top-secret clearance.
In this capacity, the Special Agent is a resource for intelligence gathering, assists with high-profile investigations and investigates threats related to domestic terrorism.
CDCR also has one Special Agent from the Special Service Unit-Rancho Cucamonga, also with top-secret clearance, who is also assigned to the FBI JTTF in Riverside.
What skills are required for these positions?
Skills required by the CDCR CIAU TLO Special Agent is one who is willing to delve into the various extremist groups whether it be:
- Home Grown Violent Extremists
- Racially Motivated Violent Extremist
- Anti-Government/Anti-Authority Violent Extremists
- or other domestic terrorism extremists.
The Special Agent should also keep an open-mind as there are many “grey” areas when it comes to these groups. The Special Agent may be required to work outside their normal work hours, needing to travel at a moment’s notice.
TLOs are statewide
Each CDCR institution’s Investigative Services Unit (ISU) are assigned a designated Primary TLO and Backup TLO to investigate and report any activity regarding radicalization discovered at their respective institution.
Additionally, there are designated TLOs in:
- Division of Parole Operations
- Office of Internal Affairs
- and Division if Juvenile Justice.
These designated TLOs are able to report radicalized inmate activity, identify new trends, and/or identify extremist groups operating within their facility. TLOs attend a variety of training to recognize signs of violent extremism to identify inmate radicalization and keep current with emerging trends. TLOs are able to identify radicalized propaganda, tattoos, and other distinct characteristics indicative of radicalization. The information discovered by TLOs is then submitted to the CIAU TLO Special Agent.
Suspicious Activity Report
CDCR’s TLO Program designates a CIAU Intelligence Analyst to review any submitted information and prepare a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). The Intelligence Analyst is also responsible for the production and review of profile reports and the submission SARs to the jurisdiction of the designated Fusion Center.
The SAR serves as official documentation of observed behavior reasonably indicative of preoperational planning associated with criminal activity or terrorism. The reporting of suspicious activities can help prevent violent crimes, acts of terrorism, and protect critical assets, people and infrastructures. SARs are electronically submitted to a fusion center within the jurisdiction of where the suspicious activity took place.
Failure to report suspicious activity may result in a catastrophic loss of life event. The events surrounding the September 11, 2001, and the gaps within sharing information, resulted in the creation of fusion centers.
A Fusion Center is a collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies to share resources, intelligence, and communication regarding criminal and terrorist activity.
California has six recognized fusion centers encompassing a jurisdiction within California forming the State Threat Assessment System (STAS).
The California State Threat Assessment Center (STAC) serves as California’s primary fusion center is composed of representatives from agencies including Cal DOJ, Cal OES, and CHP.
CDCR has an assigned CIAU Sergeant as the department’s representative for the STAC. This Sergeant also serves as the back-up TLO to the CIAU Special Agent TLO.
CDCR’s TLO Program continues to assist in the protection of CDCR assets and contributes to CDCR’s mission to enhance public safety.
By the Office of Correctional Safety and Office of Public and Employee Communications