War on Terrorism

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Assessment of the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) Program

Authors: Lois M. Davis, Todd C. Helmus, Priscillia Hunt, Leslie Adrienne Payne, Salar Jahedi, Flavia Tsang


The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) created the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) Program in 1996 to provide specialized counterterrorism (CT) training to state, local, and tribal law enforcement personnel. This report assesses the nature and value of this training.
BJA’s SLATT Program comprises four components:

1.         the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, which serves as the technical service provider;
2.         U.S. government agencies and organizations that assist with planning and coordination and may contribute expertise;
3.         instructors who teach the training modules; and
4.         a web-based educational component.

The purpose of this study was to gauge the need for SLATT based on potential terrorist threats, both foreign and domestic. The researchers assessed how SLATT is organized, conducted a survey of five SLATT investigative/intelligence workshops and train-the-trainer workshops, and conducted a cost-benefit analysis.

A majority of participants who responded to the SLATT survey reported that counterterrorism was a major responsibility of their position, suggesting that SLATT is attracting law enforcement officers. Participants in the investigative/intelligence workshops had similar training goals to those who participated in the train-the-trainer workshops, which included improving their understanding of international and domestic terrorist threats, enhancing their CT investigative skills, and meeting other law enforcement professionals.

While SLATT workshops are offered at no cost, the study found that law enforcement agencies incur modest costs, such as travel expenses and covering shifts while officers are away attending SLATT. Agencies that host SLATT also incur some cost.

The researchers found that participants most value three-day training less than 100 miles away from home. Participants seek both domestic and international terrorist topics.

The study suggests that developing CT training is an investment by agencies, and that officers must continually renew CT knowledge and expertise as new personnel fill CT positions. This suggests that there is an ongoing need for CT training that is low-cost, such as SLATT provides.

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