It is clear to the American that the police forces have a crucial role in preventing terrorist attacks. This is due to the fact that they are better placed to identify any local terrorist threats and can organize their duties to ensure that the vulnerable targets are protected. This paper therefore seeks to find out whether the USA police have the expertise and skills require to offer protection through investigation of terrorists, and if their policies have the required adjustments to enable them offer the role of protection of the vulnerable groups. From this paper, it can be concluded that police are better placed to identify any local terrorist threats in the USA. They have all it takes to identify the most risky target points and can plan internal safety measures to protect the innocent Americans incase of terror attacks.
During the research I encountered some problems with regard to narrowing down my topic to: Terrorism in America: Local Police and Prevention of Terrorism. The topic terrorism seemed wide at first hence there was need to narrow it down into something that can be discussed within the given limit. However, I did not encounter any problem in the research for materials were readily available. The enjoyable thing about this research was the knowledge I gained concerning American Terrorism and their efforts to prevent it. The findings about the tradition that has been there where national securities have been working alone to prevent terrorism was also enjoyable. Nowadays they have to hand-in-hand with public and private agencies and more so with the local police to mitigate the risk of terrorism. I decided on this topic because terrorism has been a concern to the USA for a long period of time. Its prevention in terms of protection of vulnerable targets and innocent Americans is a serious concern. This topic however does not concern me in particular.
The 9/11 attacks in the United States altered everything including the national security agencies which no longer work alone to prevent any attack in the future. The national security agencies have to work with public and private agencies and more so with the local police in prevention of terrorism. This is because the police can find out the terrorists operating in their locality hence assist in preventing vulnerable targets and also respond to the attack as first as possible. These are among the responsibilities handled by the USA police forces which can not be ignored as the public and the government expects them to offer defense (Clarke and Newman 2006 pp.1). There is an argument in the case for the active involvement of the USA local police to prevent terrorism. The argument is that that this critical role in counter-terrorism is not different from their routine roles of preventing any other crimes (Kelling and Bratton 2006, pp.6).
Kelling and Bratton (2006, pp.6) argue that counter-terrorism in the USA police forces has to be departmentalized as one of the daily work of the police. According to them this role should be part of the agenda of all meetings held in the forces and the officers should carry out this role on daily basis even when in the streets. This seems a hard task to be implemented by the local police as terrorism attacks are rare occurrences and the terrorists intentions are most unlikely to be attracted by the USA local police. According to them, the local police cannot evade this critical role at the expense of the lives of the innocent Americans. It is therefore sensible for the local police to haven prior strategies before the terrorist attacks and more so to have these plans as part of their daily work.
Terrorism Prevention Role of the Local Police
Terrorism often comes with severe consequences to the attacked state. Its prevention therefore becomes more crucial than the prevention of other crimes that need perpetrators to be brought to justice. The USA local police have to be careful not to spend much of their energy in gathering intelligence at the expense of protecting the targets. This is because gathering intelligent about terror intentions is one of their roles in the states. The local police however, lack the skills and the expertise in protection of targets and also they are less familiar with this role. With the wide truth that terrorism has always been a threat to the USA, the local police and even communities have to come up with long-term plans to guard the vulnerable target states (Clarke and Newman 2003 pp.2)
The practice of the local police has had an assumption that preventing a crime from happening is the same as arresting the offenders. Few crimes nowadays are followed by arrest despite the efforts of the police to reduce crimes. There is lack of evidence from statistics that murder will be deterred by capital punishment. The offenders do not fear the risk of being caught and the severe punishment that follows an arrest. The supply of offenders does not ever end as five to ten percent of any new youth cohort always turns out to be offenders who have been doing the same crime over time. This means that even though many offenders are arrested and imprisoned, many of them find their way out of the prison bars (Heaton, 2000, pp. 340).
These same reasons explain why it is not safe to identify terrorists and arrest them or kill them. This is because most of them are willing to die for their beliefs hence it is hard to deter them by death or capital punishment. Arresting them is hard as terrorists are keener to keep their operations private compared to other criminals. This is even harder especially when they operate overseas and when their countries are sympathetic to them i.e. the search of Osama bin Laden that almost became fruitless. Trying them in open courts is also a tall order due to security matters and they make their arrest to be relational disasters for the attacked country. To these countries, the risk of imprisoning them can be a reason for their supporters to plan flesh terror attacks (Clarke and Newman 2006 pp.5).
To the USA police forces, killing these terrorists proves even more dangerous. It leads to hostility among different groups of people, making it hard to settle any conflict. This justifies the fact that terrorists are violent attackers and fighting them is as dealing with ruthless people. This makes them to recruit even more young terrorists e.g. the madrassas in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and parts of Indonesia where the young people are trained before being recruited. However, this does not mean that they should not be arrested or given severe punishment once caught. These terrorists deserve to be caught, punished and even killed for their actions that are becoming a nightmare to the USA’s economy and more threatening the lives of the people (Enders & Sandler 2006, pp. 320).
Killing the leader terrorist who is seen as vital to the group and who can not be replaced easily is also effective to the police forces’ role of preventing terrorism. These leaders in most cases hold considerable positions in the groups are always the key decision makers to their followers. Once killed, the group or the organizations they lead can no longer stand hence this can be a way of saving the lives of many innocent people. However, much of this work is far behind the ability of the USA local police who seem to have less interest in prevention of terrorism. This supports the argument that one of the role of the local police should be to prevent terrorism in their communities. The idea of eliminating these terrorists completely from the vulnerable target in the USA should be incorporated in the daily practice of the local police (Cauley and Im, 1988 pp. 28).
The 9/11 attacks on the USA has made terrorism to be viewed a social order threat as the lives of many Americans were endangered. During the initial years after the attack, it was as if the intelligence agencies had taken the police force’s power by force to protect the society from terror attacks. This change in the roles led to the shift of funds from the forces to the community-based security programs. However, things have changed whereby the police are being argued to take the critical role of protecting the Americans against terrorist attacks. This is because the police are better placed to identify any local terrorist threats. They also know and can be able to tell the most risky target points and can plan internal safety measures should there be attacks.
The most important role of the American local police should therefore be that one of prevention. This is due to the risk of loss life that always accompanies terrorism. The community policing guidelines should be extended to enable the police gather intelligence concerning terrorism .Protection of the vulnerable targets should be as result of the efforts shifted towards crime prevention depending on the situation. To be able to carry out all these functions, those police forces from large cities that tend to have many vulnerable targets have to make sensible alterations in their operations. The police forces have to incorporate these changes in their operations as they are in line with the policing practices that lead to the best results. Lastly, they have to put premium on prevention as it is the only way the terror attacks can be mitigated. For the public and private agencies and other organizations, they have to form partnerships that will enable them to gather viable information to aid in community servicing. These practices if well implemented will not only assist to reduce the threat of terrorism to America but it will also enable them to serve the state better. This will be a vital tool for the state in its efforts to fight crimes, thwart innocent American victims and give assurance to the public that there is security from external threats.