Homeland Security and Law Enforcement

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 may have made the single largest impact on law enforcement in the nation in 50 years. Enacted in response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the act created an interactive intelligence community that reaches from the community and state all the way up to the federal law enforcement level.

As a result of the act, over $18 billion was allotted by Congress to state and local governments in an effort to increase local preparedness and national security. The grants included an additional $1 billion for protecting mass transit (buses, trains, ferries), port facilities, public power plants (electric and nuclear), public stadiums, dams, and other critical facilities potentially vulnerable to disasters or attacks.

At the local level, the increased funding has resulted in increased police and law enforcement responsibilities. For example, mobile radiation monitors were installed at Baltimore, MD's port, creating additional workforce requirements for operating and monitoring the new homeland security technology.

Law Enforcement and the Patriot Act

In 2001, Congress also approved the controversial Patriot (Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism ) Act. The transition to full cooperation between local and federal agencies has met with its share of difficulties. Local police have criticized the FBI for withholding intelligence that appeared critical to integrating services across all levels. In one case, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani complained to Congress that the FBI was not responding to requests for vital data.

In addition to poor inter-agency communication, other blocks to law enforcement efficiency at state, local, and federal levels since the Patriot Act include aging equipment that cannot keep up with new technology, and difficulties in interpreting and enacting search-and-seizure laws.

More Duties = More Police Jobs

A 2004 survey reported that highway patrols in all 50 states found themselves with increased responsibilities in homeland security initiatives. About 75 percent of all state police agencies reported significant leadership problems gathering and disseminating intelligence data in their state. State police must also conduct more vulnerability evaluations, which impacts the roles of police officers and investigators.

The net result has been a hiring increase for specialized intelligence roles at the state and local levels. In Florida, for example, the state police hired 30 new employees as intelligence analysts. New York has added 15 specialized analysts and other states are following suit. The new positions have titles like Public Safety Secretary, Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Homeland Security Director, Special Advisor to the Governor, and Emergency Management Director.

As a result of implementations proposed by the 9/11 Commission Report, state and local police agencies have found increased demands on their training facilities. Local police are asking for increased training in emergency response, special weapons, explosives detection, and crime lab techniques, which places a greater financial burden on state agencies responsible for providing the training.

Local law enforcement agencies report that implementing 9/11 requirements means that officers have to maintain a greater awareness of "suspicious activities" than ever before, placing an increased burden on patrol duties. Officers also must receive more thorough preparation for responding to potential biological, chemical, and radiological attacks.

Both state and city police departments report that shifting funding and enforcement priority to national security has weakened their efforts to patrol community crime and maintain drug enforcement operations.

Change has not been easy. The shifting priorities have also affected the overall cooperation between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. States complain that federal support has diminished for traditional crime and drug activities at the state and local levels as national security funding increases. Law enforcement professionals at all levels will continue to maintain this delicate balance in an increasingly globalized America.
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