Terrorism has become a worldwide concern and especially since September 11, 2011, the United States Homeland Security has changed several policies. The issues that came up in the threat of a terrorist attack have spread their influence to all institutions and law enforcement authorities. The recent modifications to the police involvement in Homeland Security have seen significant changes with the out coming results.
The first implementation that followed September 11th was more advancement in the gathering of intelligence relating to the world terrorism, how it operated and at what rate it was spreading. The issue was that most local authorities and police services had no prior training in the counterterrorism tactics. This meant that there was no specific technique which allowed for proper identification of acts that could be considered terrorist and there were no policies or procedures that would specifically deal and find solutions to the problem. Now, the policy has been enacted that will enhance the authorities in the fight against world and specifically the United States terrorism. Even before September 11th terrorist attacks, the federal government would get involved by funding local policing and law enforcement agencies to advance tactics and techniques. The regulatory changes that were made in the recent years provide equipment and knowledge specific to terrorism. Training is another important key component in the direct action of preventing future attacks. The involvement of local police services is set out by the engagement in counterterrorist activities. Indirect action is classified by the interconnection between intelligence groups that gather the data and look at a more distant and general technique of fighting terrorism (Dunn, 2008).
There are several important issues to consider when police get involved in Homeland Security, as it operates on a smaller and more direct scale. The local authorities play an important role in the community policing but in case of pro-active approach there is bound to be some displeasement form the local public. Police are sometimes forced to stereotype and mistrust citizens, even though it happens without specific want to discriminate or segregate certain individuals. The policy outlines as everyone being a possible suspect but due to limitations in the amount of enforcers and resources, authorities have to decide what specific individuals to target. This in turn, causes for the reputation of police agencies to suffer because people realize that there is a possibility they are not trusted and considered suspect. Even though this fact happens for the greater good, sometimes people are unable to recognize the larger problem and blame police for being overprotective and suspicious. An issue that also deserves attention is the distribution of police officers on large territory. The decentralization of governmental institutions and law enforcement agencies leads to more police involvement in the local communities, whereas national security consisting of FBI forces is significantly lower in personnel. The unification and close cooperation on the federal and local level will provide for better communication and resolution of the common goal (Marion & Oliver, 2006).
Another important issue is the possibility of the infringement of constitutional rights of people where privacy through surveillance can be compromised. In the end, it is much better to prevent terrorist attacks and save lives, than to stay completely free of any negative views and opinions. Police forces often have a certain predisposition from the public and people feel insecure in case they have committed some minor infractions. The opposing argument is that people will feel much safer with the courts establishing justice and protecting individuals based on their rights and freedoms. At the same time, local public can proactively participate in the training and gain knowledge as to recognition of potential terrorist acts. The victims will be considerably interested in responding and so, local communities can become strengthened through public participation and education. Those accused or suspected of terrorism will face harsher penalties and the sentencing process will be modified. The horrific nature of terrorist acts demands a hardening of the justice system, as the committed violations are a danger to the local society and the security of the whole nation (Charvat, 2012)
The most positive outcome of the changes in policies is the awareness that came to the local police services and people. Officers are taking active part in teaching the community on how to deal and recognize terrorism. They have made themselves much more approachable and the outreach has proven beneficial to both sides. The close cooperation of police and public has made counterterrorist action better organized nationwide. The majority of people are interested in participating in the neighborhood watch, religious groups have set up educational sessions, schools, offices and healthcare have organized training for people of all ages. Any suspicious activity is immediately reposted by hotels, bars, delivery service carriers, taxi drivers and many other businesses, public or private.
Even though there are several possible and existing issues, an increase in the public participation and awareness proves that people are ready to take action together with police and Homeland Security in the fight against terrorism.
Charvat, J. (2012). Homeland security organization in defense against terrorism. Fairfax, United States: IOS Press.
Dunn, W. N. (2008). Public policy analysis: An introduction (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, United States: Pearson/Prentice Hall
Marion, N. E., & Oliver, W. M. (2006). The public policy of crime and criminal justice. Upper saddle River, United States: Pearson/Prentice Hall.