Terrorism Response and Local Police Research Paper

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Local Police Response to Terrorism

The Council of State Governments

The council of State Governments is a body of representatives of all states, Territories within the ambit of the U.S. And Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. It is an organization that provides vital data and statistics towards excellence in running the matters of the state. It seeks to enable the three apex institutions, viz., legislature, judiciary and the executive with intellectual inputs with a national perspective, innovative technological tools grooming effective and quality leadership and maintaining the autonomy of the states at the same time. It provides as a base for resolution of intra and inter-sate conflicts and mutually beneficial action plans.


Terrorism is an illegal act of force or violence to exact on any public domain to put the government under duress and thereby extract social or political mileage and seek objectives for a particular community or group. Terrorism, in the same vein has been classified as local or international with regard to its location of origin, the perspective it carries and its area of operation (White, J., 2006).

There is an inherent problem in defining it thus, however. For, acts of violence for its own political motives are used by, both, the state as well as by groups owing no state affiliation, alike. The legitimacy of use of violet, intimidating tactics is prone to debate revolving around whom, at whom, and for what purpose. As the definitions of terrorism available are largely a work of state agencies the branding of state as a terrorist is obviously, by design given the miss.


In all cases of terrorist acts that affects public-at-large it is but natural that the casualty to structures and human beings is attended to by the local reaction agencies and respite providing organs, state-sponsored as well as other non-governmental bodies. That is not to say that the federal government has not stepped up its efforts at prevention of terrorist attacks and reprisal of situations arising because of it. However, aftermath of the terrorist attack of the unimaginable magnitude has cast its shadow in no unambiguous terms policing is done now. It has since become important to exploit all resources at hand to their maximum and reorient the way law enforcement should act. The importance of coordination of the various arms of security and law enforcement at all levels; local, state and federal needs a serious rethink.

COPS, Community Oriented Policing Services, an arm under the U.S. Department of Justice has taken concrete efforts that highlight the steps undertaken by its grantees and also furnishes the list of resources it may need to implement and activate its own line of action. The grants were utilized to prevent recurrence of such attacks as well as for response actions to be taken. The grants have worked along the following lines;

Up gradation of Intelligence data collection and processing

Increased use of technological innovations

Increased involvement with other agencies in the security providing domain

Adequate response for mitigating fear in the general populace and preemptive measures for those most vulnerable

A more comprehensive outlook towards anti-terrorism however would be to involve more public participation as a means of human intelligence inputs sought. It is also to forge closer working relationship between law enforcement agencies and the peripheral services. (Chapman et al., 2002).

The horrific incident forced a perceptive change in the priorities of the FBI (almost all other law enforcement agencies followed suit) and formation of the Department of Homeland Security. The focus of all law agencies shifted almost instantaneously towards prevention of terrorist acts and the response action that it left in its wake. This single-minded attention of almost the entire executive to the new challenge has opened up a gap in the areas that they were previously concentrating and controlling: Financial crimes, drug trafficking, bank robbery and the mobsters that perpetuated the organized crimes. (FBI in coordination with state and local agencies were mostly involved in tackling issues in these areas prior to the 9/11 horror. It would be anticipated that with the larger and better equipped machinery at its disposal, the federal agencies like FBI and DHS would shift its focus and the administration would empower the state and local agencies to tackle the more regional criminal activities. Quite on the contrary, federal financial assistance to these local and state law enforcement arms (including even Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grant and Community Oriented Policing Services) has been almost done away with, surprisingly (Voegtlin and Boyter, 2005).

To top this financial squeeze, police personnel are also being called to service in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as reserves or as National Guards. An already depleted agency, financially, as also without the help of FBI, finds itself increasingly inadequate facing a severe dearth of personnel (National Study, 2004). The defeating conditions that are hence prevailing in the state and local agencies is apparent in the light of the factors discussed above.

The Council Of State Governments and University of Kentucky undertook a massive exercise in 2003 that lasted more than an year and half the changing security scenario and the impact it had on the state and local agencies was discussed with the leaders at local and state level the issues that put pressure on the local bodies was studied also by way of taking a series of specific cases and each of the 50 states were investigated for the changing security scene had caused on the whole structure. The exercise involved active participation and inputs from the local bodies and experts of the matter therein. The analysis of the findings was analyzed twice in 2004 and identified the issues that had cropped up within departments of the state machinery itself as well as the local bodies. The gaps in their working towards the same goals had been plagued by disconnect, perspective and overall methods of working differences. This created the need for a more congenial approach between the two. The group consented on better sharing of resources, both, human intelligence as well as statistical tools, to analyze situations that had cropped up. The new dimension of terrorist attack control needed a better cohesion amongst the levels of law enforcement machineries at disposal. It was also recognized that the interplay between non-government agencies and government bodies was the necessity of the time. In concluding the report, new laws and procedures and duties to pre-empt terrorism, implementation of new federal directives and other criminal problems were put to plan at the state and local level. The states are seeking increasing developments in the working and execution of DHS domain. It is now more feasible for the state and local bodies to have a perspective of the emerging security scenario and tactical steps that need to be taken keeping the future in sight (Clarke, 2006).

Survey Findings

The findings of the survey are marked by a clear area of importance that local and state bodies attach to as a part of their priority. While the state machinery is more involved in providing the DHS with vital intelligence and counter terrorist measures by way of better intelligence collection, the local police are more involved in anticipating the more vulnerable locations and creating infrastructure to pre-empt attacks. It is also involved in the awareness campaigns of it citizenry to seek effective inputs and help as well as provide informed remedial action in any eventuality. The emergency situations have been accorded equal importance by both levels of policing. The smaller local bodies are now more concerned with the traditional safety precautions that the public needs to adopt.

The states have taken it upon themselves to impart vital technological tools and training to their local counterparts. An increased participation of private players has resulted in providing the state machinery with more leeway to be involved in more public-private interactions and training activities. On the other hand, the necessity of state and local police to be involved in the JTTF activities led by the FBI is straining their resources. Whereas immigration related work has become more of a state police matter, the FBI is also relieved of it role in drug trafficking and traditional crimes, leading to severe crunch in the machinery of the state and local police. Another important change is that the local and state law enforcement agencies are required to interact more frequently with the FBI and ODP than any other federal agency.

Accountability Challenges

According to Brewer et al., 1996 it has been proven that the best way of ascertaining accountability of the law enforcement agency is to keep the communication channels as open as possible between the police department and the public-at-large. It has been observed, that the close scrutiny of the police by the citizenry has materialized in better policing standards. This is significant fallout of the decentralization of the judicial system of America (Wilson & Sklansky, 2005).

The direct connection of local policing accountability is a relatively easier task to achieve in the…[continue]

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