The US intelligence and law enforcement communities have been successful in preventing another orchestrated large-scale attack on our homeland like the one on September 11, 2001. In spite of this success, though, our streets still aren’t safe from terrorism. Today, the homegrown violent extremist is the greatest threat to our homeland in terms of both recurrence and lacking a means to preventing them from carrying out attacks.
Community-based information is the first step in preventing future attacks. Although many law enforcement departments have community oriented policing efforts, there hasn’t been a universal collaborative platform or initiative that can be broadly appliedto prevent terrorist activities. It is important to note that there is a dramatic difference between this approach and efforts by federal authorities to either form partnerships within the community or law enforcement undercover operations. The local police officer is part of the daily landscape within each community, and it is this daily contact that is the principle of community oriented policing.
The future terrorists live within our communities, hiding in plain sight, and it is the community that forms the first defense. One of the core principals of community oriented policing is the opportunity to engender local cooperation in identifying suspicious activity. It’s this sort of community awareness that can enable law enforcement to be as proactive in preventing terrorist attacks as they are in responding to attacks.
Read the complete report here in the current June/July, 2015 Homeland Security Today.
James Zammillo is an 11 year veteran of the Howard County Police Department in Maryland, serving in various assignments including criminal investigations, community services and patrol. He has a Masters of Science Degree in Intelligence from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelors Degree from Frostburg State University.