Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Not All Law Enforcement Agencies Are Combating the Terrorist Threat

Despite the traditional rancor that exists between local law enforcement agencies and some federal law enforcement agencies, locals have always enjoyed a federal contribution to local policing efforts. The F.B.I., A.T.F., I.R.S. and Secret Service investigate local crimes that fit within their particular niche. Now the federal contribution is dropping, and it is a good thing. It is dropping because the feds have appropriately shifted resources to terrorism and illegal immigration.

From an article on Federal enforcement:

Federal law-enforcement agencies are referring fewer criminal investigations for prosecution, including white-collar crimes, long a mainstay of the FBI's crime-fighting mission.1

A recent study by the Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse, a Syracuse University research center, found the FBI is instead focusing more on terrorism cases, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.1

Immigration-related prosecutions… increased by 215 percent over the same period and terrorism cases by776 percent.1

It took 9/11/2001 to start the monumental federal directional shift away from traditional law enforcement activities and toward the intelligence function. Terrorism is, after all, a primary federal responsibility. It is not an easy task for the F.B.I. to transform itself into an intelligence agency. It is difficult shoving tenured Special Agents out of their comfortable roles and into the intelligence community. I suspect that is why so many new agents are assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Forces.

As you might guess, not all local law enforcement agencies have welcomed the federal change of direction. Several years ago, one California county association of police executives sent a letter of complaint to F.B.I. headquarters in Wash., D.C. That spoke volumes about the local misunderstanding concerning the significance of the terrorist people of interest in their county.

Fortunately, many state and local law enforcement agencies are embracing their responsibility to join and augment a national effort to combat terrorism. That responsibility begins within the jurisdictional boundaries of every law enforcement agency because that is where the terrorist supporters are secreted and plotting.

From the L.A.P.D.:

"Homeland security is really hometown security,"2

The N.Y.P.D. fully recognized those facts and said so in their seminal study, “Radicalization in the West The Homegrown Threat.”

Jihadist or jihadi-Salafi ideology is the driver that motivates young men and women, born or living in the West, to carry out “autonomous jihad” via acts of terrorism against their host countries. It guides movements, identifies the issues, drives recruitment and is the basis for action.3

L.A.P.D. recognized the terrorist reality and joined many other agencies by forming a Terrorism Liaison Officer program. The goal is to train officers and the public to recognize and report terrorism pre-incident indicators. That information is then funneled to the department’s intelligence officers for analysis and appropriate distribution.

The Los Angeles Police Department has launched a new reporting system aimed to help connect dots that could uncover local terror plots — a program that police departments in other major cities across the country hope to incorporate into their daily routines as well.2
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, more local police agencies have been training
officers to look for certain indicators of terrorist activity.2
The optimal word for local participation in the national terrorism effort is “SOME,” since many law enforcement agencies have not yet joined. Federal ownership of the primary responsibility for combating terrorism does not relieve local responsibility.

All terrorism is a local issue. Just because a local jurisdiction does not have a high likelihood of being on the receiving end of a terrorist act does not mean that the jurisdiction is free of the plotters and their cohorts. Doesn’t the local law enforcement agency have a responsibility to do all that it can to search them out? Waiting for the feds to singly address the problem is foolish because the national task is massive, resources are limited and the best information is more readily available to the local law enforcement agencies.

Disgraceful are the agencies which have refused a federal invitation to join a joint task force.

Unconscionable are the law enforcement agencies which are simply giving lip-service to the need and don’t actually contribute to the cause. In essence, these agencies are lying to their city fathers and citizens.

To the citizens with law enforcement agencies which are not carrying their weight to protect the American people, it could be you, your loved ones, or friends who pay the price of the negligence. These agencies are supposed to work for you. Tell your city leaders what you want your police force to do. Find your voice, and find it loudly!

Links in this Blog:
1. Federal criminal probes decline

2. LAPD starts new terror plot reporting plan

3. Radicalization in the West The Homegrown Threat

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