Origins of ILEAS:
The Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) was formed in 2002 in response to the September 11th attacks as a joint venture of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). We were created to meet the needs of local law enforcement throughout the State of Illinois in matters of mutual aid, emergency response and the combining of resources for public safety and terrorism prevention and response. We are a consortium of over 900 local governments established pursuant to the Constitution of the State of Illinois (Ill. Const. Art. VII, sec. 10), the Illinois Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (5 ILCS 220/1 et seq.), the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (745 ILCS 10/7-101 et seq.) and the Illinois Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/11-1-2.1).
ILEAS has come a long way since its post 9/11 birth. When it was first created, there was no staff, only the beginning of a Governing Board and minimal participation by police and sheriffs. The laudable efforts of the first few individuals that formed ILEAS, Sheriff Jim Olson, Deputy Chief Pete Smith, Chief Deputy Gary Stryker, Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard, Illinois Terrorism Task Force Chair Mike Chamness and many others resulted in the creation of ILEAS and the first Governing Board formed. From those early days when only a few agencies were members, ILEAS now boasts a membership of hundreds of law enforcement agencies, representing over 95% of the officers and deputies in Illinois.
In March 2014, ILEAS announced the newly updated Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Agreement. This new Agreement improves on the original developed in 2002 in several ways. It provides an opportunity for local law enforcement to recommit to the statewide mutual aid concept, provides for county correctional officers to be available for mutual aid for sheriffs and provides for an amendment process that the original agreement did not provide. ILEAS is working to get all 900+ current member agencies to sign onto the new Agreement.
ILEAS' Exceptional Status:
The unique aspect of ILEAS that sets it apart from all other law enforcement groups is its governance and role. ILEAS represents the interests of local agencies because it consists of and is overseen by local agencies. The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police as well as 16 elected chiefs and sheriffs dominate the ILEAS Governing Board. The Illinois State Police and the Chicago Police Department are also represented. Even though Homeland Security Grant funding is provided by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, spending and investment priorities are established by ILEAS in the name of and the benefit for local law enforcement.
From the early days without staff, ILEAS has grown to a mature, well-regarded professional agency unlike any other law enforcement organization in the nation. ILEAS currently has 27 employees and has managed over tens of millions of dollars in grants for local law enforcement, emergency management and emergency medical support in Illinois. Under ILEAS’ auspices, six WMD Special Response Teams and ten Mobile Field Force Teams (also known as Law Enforcement Patrol Strike Teams) have been created. In total there are 892 officers from 309 different agencies represented on ILEAS teams. ILEAS has invested a significant amount of funding in creating, equipping, training and maintaining these special teams. Given the ILEAS motto of “Strength Through Cooperation”, ILEAS required these teams to be multi-jurisdictional. Many of these teams are now providing service to entire regions of the state where before there was no local support.
ILEAS has historically offered equipment grants to local agencies. In the past, ILEAS has provided funds for physical security, training, HazMat equipment, radios and mobile data computers (MDC’s). Additionally, 13 mobile command posts, nine armored vehicles and a host of other specialty vehicles have been provided at no cost to various agencies in Illinois. Agencies receiving this equipment must agree to maintain it and provide it during large state or regional emergencies if necessary.
ILEAS consists of a Governing Board of 21 sheriffs/police chiefs, the Illinois State Police and the Chicago Police Department. The sheriffs and chiefs of police are elected by members in eight regions of Illinois. The Governing Board meets bi-monthly and conducts one general membership annual meeting. The elected Officers of the Governing Board comprise the Executive Committee which oversees the day to day operations of ILEAS.
ILEAS is primarily funded by Federal State Homeland Security Grant Program funds. All of the homeland security funding and planning for the State of Illinois local law enforcement, the City of Chicago and the County of Cook receive separate homeland security funding; however, ILEAS supports suburban Cook County law enforcement agencies and works closely with the Chicago Police Department to coordinate operational issues and planning projects.
Through priorities established by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (residing at IEMA) and the ILEAS Governing Board, ILEAS establishes and implements planning, training and equipment purchasing/distribution for local law enforcement. ILEAS was noted as employing several best practices in a 2008 federal Department of Homeland Security Program audit.
Mutual Aid Goals:
ILEAS, headquartered in Urbana, Illinois, operates the largest statewide local law enforcement mutual aid network in the United States. Agencies that have been struck by a disaster can call ILEAS which will then coordinate statewide mutual aid response as needed. Every member agency of ILEAS has signed an identical mutual aid agreement. Additionally, ILEAS is the agency that IEMA relies on to organize large mutual aid responses of local law enforcement – both intra- and inter-state. Responding to a request by the Governor, ILEAS deployed 300 local officers to the Hurricanes Katrina/Rita disasters in Louisiana. ILEAS also sent officers in August of 2008 to St. Paul, Minnesota for the Republican National Convention and in September of 2009 to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the G20 Summit. Most recently, ILEAS worked with IEMA and the Illinois State Police to send 50 troopers, deputies and officers to New Jersey in response to Superstorm Sandy.
In June of 2008, ILEAS opened and now manages a homeland security training center in Urbana. Thousands of public safety officials have attended advanced federal and state training courses at the ILEAS Training Center. At the end of 2021, over 70,000 people attended over 3,500 meetings and training events at the ILEAS Training Center.
ILEAS has purchased millions of dollars of homeland security equipment and transferred this equipment to local law enforcement agencies. This includes, but is not limited to:
- 26,000 APR respirators
- $15 million of SWAT equipment
- Large specialty vehicles such as armored transport/response vehicles and mobile command posts
- 1,000 mobile digital computers (laptops for squad cars)
- 1,000 interoperable public safety radios
- 6,000 radiation detectors
Additionally, ILEAS maintains contingency equipment caches.
ILEAS Special Teams:
ILEAS equips and oversees several multi-jurisdictional regional special teams throughout the State of Illinois. There are two main teams – WMD Special Response Teams (WMD SRT) and Mobile Field Force teams. The WMD SRT teams are locally-employed SWAT teams that are specially trained and funded by ILEAS to deal with the human threat in a hazardous materials environment. They often also act as regional tactical assets for local agencies. The Mobile Field Force teams are multi-jurisdictional teams of locally-employed officers equipped and trained to deal with civil disorder. The Mobile Field Force Teams are also known as Law Enforcement Patrol Strike Teams that can be used to provide large support to local agencies that have significant or long term patrol needs they cannot fill.
Grant management has become a significant function of ILEAS. ILEAS receives homeland security sub-grants from IEMA. ILEAS has developed a robust online grant management system that all local law enforcement agencies in Illinois may participate in. Every chief and sheriff in the State has password-protected access to the ILEAS secured web page. They can conduct required equipment inventories, apply for grants and search law enforcement resources among other agencies. Additionally, ILEAS has been instrumental in the implementation of the StarCom21 statewide voice radio system. ILEAS also partners with the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) - the statewide fire mutual aid system. As previously mentioned, ILEAS has managed the homeland security grants for the Illinois Emergency Services Management Agency (IESMA). IESMA represents the local EMA and ESDA managers in Illinois. ILEAS has recently received a significant portion of the FirstNet State Local Implementation Grant.
ILEAS is also represented at the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield during statewide emergencies. ILEAS is often called upon by the State of Illinois to represent local law enforcement agencies when large operational planning needs to be conducted.