Terrorist Activities as a Current Issue in Policing


The United States of America has been highly vigilant after the September 11, attacks. As a result of increased security various law has been enforced to protect the national infrastructure, citizens, coastal borders and the society as a whole from potential terrorists. The following article delves deep into few law enforcement post the attacks that has changed the way information was used between intelligence agencies and the information was communicated by civilians and the change in role of security organizations.

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John Ashcroft, the Attorney General of US drafted the Patriot Act which was passed by the President in October 2001. Though libertarians considered that the bill would curtail freedom, the bill had amendments to around fifteen statutes. The bill gave new rights to the Justice Department and several agencies association with it regarding the collection of individuals and criminal sentences for violation of immigration rules, drug trafficking, organized crime, terrorism linked actions and money laundering. The Patriotic Act extended more authority to interfere into communications to a varied list of terrorist activities, enabled investigators to aggressively follow web related threat and required investigating officers to use one court to trace nationwide communications. The law further enthused the sharing of information among various law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Thus the investigating nature of CIA from the international perspective with the role of FBI from the domestic view received the freedom to coordinate according to the Patriot Act.

The principal law enforcement officer of the United States, the attorney general implemented new policies to avoid and fight terrorism. COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) project serves as the point of coordination and assistance at local level followed by the Justice Department to counter terrorism at national, regional, state and municipal level forces to combat terrorism. FBI and COPS have developed a number of projects to increase the collection of intelligence and processing of information and have increased the capacity to follow and gather terrorist activities and work in coordination with public safety agencies and take action for the fears of citizens and provide support for victims.

COPS and other federal projects have assisted to improve the efforts of local law enforcement agencies to respond to various calls. Law enforcements remain a separate entity but works in coordination with other agencies with in depth involvement of federal agencies for coordination of activities.

Local forces have several equipments to manage intelligence and data using geographical information system and record management system and 311 phone system. Crime analysis workstation is one such place with crime mapping software to report traditional crime which can be used in the case of emergency terrorist relation information transfer. In this case, it is integrated with law enforcement date and non law enforcement information like credit records, census information and other details. Aerial photographs, parcel information, floor plan and water systems form the non law enforcement details. This information serves as the base to local farms or stores that are possible locations to store ammonium nitrate which is used to build explosives. Thus law enforcement information can be connected with non law details to effectively tract possible attacks. An increase sale of flu medicines likewise shows that there is a possibility for biological threat.

The Combat Terrorism Act was coined in 2002 by Jim Saxton of New Jersey. This required 25 percent of funds from COPS to be allocated for intelligence programs.

The National Center for Victims of Crime supplies trauma information cards and the agency is estimated to have given away half a million such cards.

Other agencies that have come under close scrutiny and security of law enforcement post 9/11 attacks are Coast Guard, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Environment Protection Agency (Law Enforcement, Responses to Terrorism 2008).

After the 9/11 attacks, the United States congress has considered increase national security and sought to invest in the security affairs of the nation. Defense Department has emphasized the importance of homeland security of the Military. The most important aim of the Military operation is to defend the nation from the rivals. Legislation of the government states that, the Military will take maximum effort to protect the state and its people from any kind of violence from outside the state. Immediately after attacks, Department of Defense started a special wing named Operation Noble Eagle. They covered the U.S. Airspace with air and anti-air security with specially organized unit employing personnel with outstanding capabilities in defense. Department of Defense made a strong action to hand over the security aspects of resident citizens and government to the respective defense forces. They organized National Guard troops comprising 7200 personnel and enhanced the security of 444 airports of the state. The Government also took assistance from NATO partners for using E-3 AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) to defend Al Qaeda revolts based on the NATO Treaty.

The Department of Defense planned to establish a powerful authority named NORCOM (Northern Command) for the security of the homeland. The 2003 budget, the first after the attack allocated a good amount of investment to the tune of $37.7 billion for Homeland security. The funds were proposed to be used against terrorist activities, bio terrorism, border security and development of technology to fight against terrorist activities in the 21st century. The security of Ports and Coastal areas were increased with a budget of $282 million and the total funds for coast security stood at $2.9 billion.

The 2003 budget desired to obtain $7.8 billion for security related activities of Department of Defense and Intelligence Community in the interest of homeland security. Major part of the funds were planned to facilitate material security of Defense Department and the balance was allocated for air patrols in the American airspace. The budget also allocated funds for Research &Development activities to fight terrorism.

The Homeland security realized that the ports of United States are vulnerable point of attack due to its economic importance to the nation. Further, ports were less protected points of entry into the country. The service of Coast Guard was beefed up along with the services of the U.S Navy to cover its 95000 miles coast line with 360 ports. The important function of the Naval Force now is to protect air space and maritime boarders by naval aircraft and ground operations.

In order to assist Operation Noble Eagle, Navy and Coast Guard drafted the six cyclones – class Navy Patrol Coastal (PC) ships project. Four of Patrol Coastal ships are used to operate in the Atlantic coast and two of them are stationed in the Pacific coast. The Coast Guard is being support by the U.S. Navy for the first time to safeguard the maritime affairs due to the severity of terrorist threat.

The important assignment of these ships is coastal Patrol, efforts on interdiction, and protection of naval ships by providing personnel for anti terrorism. Maritime security forces have taken a decision to take strict control on vessels coming arriving at US ports. Ships are required to notify the port 96 hours before arrival. Arrangements are also made to inspect the vessel from a far distance from the homeland rather than continuing with the inspection according to the international standard distance of 3 miles. The security force has since notified that 23 vessels were deployed for transportation of narcotic drugs and mass destructive weapons from Afghanistan to the western part of the world can serve as possible carrier of weapons of mass destruction. Further the patrol coastal ships are used to accompany commercial ships moving in and out of American ports. The tactical control of Atlantic Fleet PC’s are with the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command and the operational control remains with Atlantic Fleet Navy commands

The Navy personnel of United States are usually forbidden from involving in law enforcement responsibilities of Coast Guard like searching, holding or arresting individuals as per the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. The Coast Guard does not come under such law and have the freedom to stay in Navy ships and check vessels coming into US ports and enforce law whenever application. This set up prevailed when the Coast Guard was used in Southwest Asia and Persian Gulf to ensure safe maritime operations (Russell & Bravo).

The Coast Guard has further taken several initiatives to safeguard the waterways of United States from probable maritime attacks. The Coast Guard extended their service to distant location in the Caribbean, North Atlantic and Easter Pacific. The Coast Guard authority of New Jersey and New York closed regional waterway from traffic temporarily and assisted the evacuation to Manhattan. The Coast Guard employed 2600 reservists and paved way for a revamp of the service mission. Port security earlier constituted five percent of the Coast Guard before the attacks and after the attacks it constituted 56 percent of service. The importance given to safeguard against terrorist activities reduced the scope of Coast Guard to thrust on other duties (O’Rourke).

Role of Prosecutors

Several states made legislation against terrorism and highlighted prosecutor’s role in the investigation of terrorist cases. The procedure for handling criminal offences changed in certain levels and made a clear definition of work role for the legal department. A study by an Arab American community stated that public suspicion increased and worsened on this community due to the change in legislations and reports from the media. Government agencies in security department observed that the Arab American community lived in a fearful situation and suspicious on the state activities. In order to pacify the people enforcement of law were in a position to make a better relation with the community members. Certain legislations were revamped to create better relations with the community for the sake of National security.

Issues for the Congress

An important issue of the congress was to identify whether the security organizations should be incorporated to a special agency or part of the defense. In the case of coast Guard, they have proposed to incorporate in to a cabinet level homeland security agency. Another question for the congress was the harmonization of Coast Guard with other government departments. Later, Navy and Coast Guard agreed to cooperate in some of the areas to get hold of ships, R&D, Operational matters, Logistics, trainings and the like. Coast Guard decided to cooperate with other Federal, state and local authorities in the matters of immigration, customs and intelligence agency functions (Improving the Criminal Justice Response).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the prime organization that observes and investigates terrorist activities in the United States. FBI command and Joint Operation Center (JOC) collectively manages anti terrorist and intelligence activities. The command post or JOC jointly operates law enforcement for the local, tribal or state activities. The Special Agent in Charge (SAC) can request necessary assistance from local and national assistance to support the contemporary activities in case a problem exceeds the functional abilities of the local FEDERAL Bureau of Investigation. Effective Policing substantiates when various departments of the government work in coordination with each other. To handle incidents with National importance, the FBI works in association with JOC. The Joint Operation Centre is a department have inter agency link and controls the work of multiple agencies to investigate events and enforce law (Terrorism Incident Law Enforcement).


Homeland Defense is basically aimed to initiate people to respond to suspicious situations in addition to the police service provided by the state. Though there is one police for every 380 citizens, police alone cannot enforce law. Therefore Homeland Defense requires citizen to act against terrorism and work towards prevention of further attacks. Homeland defense encourages identification and reporting of terrorist activities. The Office of Homeland Security has been established for the purpose with various programs, law, emergency personnel and officers working towards its purpose. Further the office provides training to counter terrorism and has gained significance with the fundamental ideology of awareness and prevention (Terrorism Awareness and Prevention).

Works Cited

Improving the Criminal Justice Response to Terrorism 2007. Web.

Law Enforcement, Responses to Terrorism 2008. Web.

O’Rourke, Ronald. Homeland Security: Coast Guard Operations. Background and Issues for Congress. 2002. Web.

Russell, James & Bravo, Illiana. Homeland Defense: Ramping Up, But What’s the Glide Path? Strategic Insights, Volume I, Issue 1 (2002). Web.

Terrorism Awareness and Prevention. 2008. Web.

Terrorism Incident Law Enforcement and Investigation Annex. 2008. Web.

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