“With our job, average doesn’t really exist,” said Sharon, a threat intake examiner at the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center (NTOC). “Every time we pick up the phone it’s a different situation.”
For NTOC threat intake examiners, that means handling about 3,100 different situations every day as phone calls and electronic tips flow into the FBI facility in Clarksburg, West Virginia. The calls and online tips can touch on any one of the FBI’s areas of focus—from counterterrorism and counterintelligence to bank robberies, public corruption, violent crime, and more.
The FBI’s goal is to make sure every tip is evaluated rapidly and appropriately as it continues to invest in the operations, training, and staffing of the intake center.
In early 2018, following the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, the FBI took a hard look at how it processes tips and how its Public Access Line was structured and operated during that time. “It’s up to all Americans to be vigilant, and when members of the public contact us with concerns, we must act properly and quickly,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement.
The Bureau made a strategic decision to transform the Public Access Line into what is known today as the National Threat Operations Center in response to the ever-changing threat landscape and to better identify its role within today’s FBI.
“We recognized the need to go from a call center to a full-fledged operations center,” said NTOC Assistant Section Chief Trudy Ford.
Ford said that part of the change included increasing NTOC’s cadre of professional staff and establishing an operations control center to streamline incoming tips. Employees also go through an extended training program, receive regular refresher training, and are briefed daily on current threats and active investigations that may cause an increase in tips.
To facilitate teamwork and collaboration, employees are grouped with eight to 10 other specially trained examiners and a supervisory special agent so they can share information, advice, and guidance.
The FBI also restructured its online tip form to solicit better input and instituted a risk-based approach for call processing. NTOC threat intake examiners review online tips and answer calls every day of the year, every minute of the day and night. Examiners are provided with the technology they need to assess each caller’s tip and the substance of each tip.
The threat examiners gather as much information as possible from the caller and then conduct research and analysis to help determine where that information should be directed and what further action should be taken.