Table of Contents
The best personnel who can stop terror attacks by deactivating terror groups and sleeper cell are the local police. The police can prevent terror attacks through their basic principles of policing for example information gathering, patrolling, and 24-hour surveillance of suspects in the area concerned. The tragic event of September 11, 2001, that saw Pentagon and World Trade Center attacked by terrorist contributed to a new dimension to United States Policing. Despite the fact that the Federal government puts more effort in responding and preventing terror attacks, the locals bears a large degree of responsibility to deal with threats of terrorism. Generally, the first responders to threats of terrorism are local police and therefore law enforcement officials should strategically maximize full potential of their resource. In light of this, this research paper, seeks to discuss how local police respond and prevents acts of terrorism.
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Local police are more suitable in finding out and investigating local terrorist threats as well as securing vulnerable target areas in their jurisdiction. In a recent publication by the U.S. Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), provisions of new resources to the police were discussed with the aim of developing a response plan and terrorism prevention measures. The publication also illustrated the effort of various COPS office grantees who have efficiently used resources given by COPS to strengthen their response to terror attacks (O’Hair, Johnson, Ledlow, & Cwiek, 2005). The strategy used by some COPS office grantees included data processing and intelligence collection, including widening the scope in order to deal with terrorism through technological advancement. In addition, the Cops Office grantees assist potential victims and responding to citizen fear. However, for local police to successfully respond to terror attacks it usually involves arrays of activities, some of which depends on strong partnership between agencies and local law enforcement (O’Hair, Johnson, Ledlow, & Cwiek, 2005). Thus, many debates on how local police should effectively respond and prevent terrorism are aimed at helping the local police to implement and carry out their own security assessment needs. This ensures that they develop their own procedures and systems which when integrated with good security strategy will increase improvement in sharing and gathering intelligence (Durmaz, 2007).
Technology plays a significant role in providing vital information needed to combat domestic terrorism. Presently, the advancement in technology has enabled local police to coordinate and manage various sources of intelligence and data. Eventually, this process enhances the understanding of potential or actual criminal activity. Previous studies have shown that, over the years advances in technology have led to great improvement in data capturing methods. In fact, there are many tools which can assist local police to manage data and intelligence when addressing issues of terrorism. These tools may include geographical information system (GIS), in-field laptops, 311 systems, records management systems (RMS), and computer aided dispatch systems (CAD). Altogether, these tools provide capacity to store and collect large amount of data that assist in identifying threats and improving response to critical incident (Jiao, 1998).
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According to a previous research it points out that, the Seattle Police Department uses information technology to enhance personnel mobilization and emergency assessment, specifically in areas of crime analysis (Durmaz, 2007). The research further asserts that, crime analysis workstation was procured by COPS fund and it is used during emergency mobilization to identify locations and addresses of building and critical facilities.
Responding to and preventing terrorism
Following the attack on September 11th, local police attend training which equip them with necessary tools when respond to threats of domestic terrorism. This training includes technology and information management, identifying suspects involved in terrorist activities and conducting threats assessment. On the other hand, these resources are organized or assembled in a manner that support training needs. Similarly, this police training offers agents opportunities to build in-house material on the subject of terrorism preparedness and prevention (O’Hair, Johnson, Ledlow, & Cwiek, 2005).
Local agencies will be required to beyond the existing features of law enforcement for example unarmed defense, and firearms. Law enforcement continues to stress on the role of local police to become first responders to both investigation and post-incident management. Another key area that local police should consider is public education (Jiao, 1998). Public education has a great effect on communities especially those who have never encountered terrorist event. Thus, any threats by terrorists may undermine community safety. Hence, it is significant for local police to take up a leadership role in sustaining community confidence.
Information sharing and Interoperability
The terrorist attack on September 11th reaffirmed the significance of communication interoperability. The ability of effective flow of information and compatibility of various systems occur among consistencies and law enforcement agencies (O’Hair, Johnson, Ledlow, & Cwiek, 2005). The occurrence of interoperability depends on region task forces, and neighboring law enforcement agencies. Local agencies should be cognizant of their ability to share and coordinate information with emergency and law enforcement services both at the federal and State level in case the situation warrants.
Community policy is based on the assumption that citizens should be encouraged to prevent crime or avoid engaging in habits that lead to crime. Maintaining and developing mutual trust remains a key goal in community policing, since it allows enforcement agents to access vital community information that results prevention and reduction of crimes (Durmaz, 2007). Moreover, local police benefit from community partnerships because it offers framework upon which citizens can assists local police to identify infrastructure vulnerabilities and possible terror attacks. Effectiveness of community partnership is not limited to citizens and law enforcement only, but also includes interagency and intergovernmental collaborations with federal and state agencies. The essence of community partnership is to allow sharing of resources, identification of vulnerabilities and threats including exchange and collection of intelligence (O’Hair, Johnson, Ledlow, & Cwiek, 2005).
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Crisis Management Planning
Many countries across the globe have developed a law enforcement strategy designed to investigate, prepare, and prevent variety of terrorist attacks. This strategy involves several steps ranging from identifying potential targets to purchasing emergency equipment for police and fire department. For local police, predicting the occurrence of terror attacks remains a major challenge. Areas with many diverse agencies should coordinate and respond quickly to matters relating to domestic threats by terrorism. The use of crisis management plane enhances improvement in GIS and computer, response and emergency planning. GIS plays a critical role in data mining techniques and computer simulation that can be used to prevent loss of life and property and even predict risks emanating from terror attacks (Jiao, 1998).
Alternatively, local police can integrate crisis management plan and neighborhood notification systems to warn residents of a possible threat by terrorists (Jiao, 1998). Following advanced warning, evacuation routes can be tailored to suit a specific location. Crisis management planning also includes control centers that use integrated computer systems. For local police and other law enforcement agents, this tool ensures proper coordination and existence of effective mechanisms is installed. The aim is to disseminate risk and other threats through exchange of information among local entities, state and federal.
Local police are best personnel needed to tackle issues relating to threats of domestic terrorism. They have the capacity to deactivate terror groups and sleeper cells from information gathering, patrolling, and 24-hour surveillance of suspect in the area concerned. The U.S. COPS detailed steps needed to respond to terror attacks, through its publication, provisions of new resources to the local police were discussed. The result has seen some COPS office grantees recognized for their efficient use of resources when responding to terror attack. Advances in technology have assisted local police to respond to threats of domestic terrorism through gathering and sharing of intelligence. The research paper also discusses how local police prevent and respond to terrorism. For instance, police training that involves conducting threats assessment, technology, and information management. Others include community partnership, crisis management planning, information sharing, and interoperability.
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- Durmaz, H. (2007). Understanding and responding to terrorism. Washington, DC: IOS Press.
- Jiao, A. Y. (1998). Community-Oriented Policing and Policing-Oriented Community. Journal of Crime and Justice, 21(1), 135–158. doi:10.1080/0735648x.1998.9721070
- O’Hair, D. H., Johnson, J. A., Ledlow, G. R., & Cwiek, M. A. (2005). Community preparedness and response to terrorism. United States: Praeger Publishers.