The Intel Intelligencer: LE, Counter-Terror and Homeland Security

Posted on 4 April 2011 by

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The Intel Intelligencer this week looks at a paper which is not new – drafts of this have been circulating since December, 2010 – but is important as it addresses the important question of how we as law enforcement crime and intelligence analysis view our role in defending the homeland.

It is equally important reading as we as a nation contemplate how we look at domestic intelligence nearly a decade after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

Title: Long-Term Effects of Law Enforcement’s Post-9/11 Focus on Counterterrorism and Homeland Security
Author: Lois M. Davis, Michael Pollard, Kevin Ward, Jeremy M. Wilson, Danielle M. Varda, Lydia Hansell, Paul Steinberg
Publisher: RAND Corporation

To answer questions about how local law enforcement strategies have been adapted to meet contemporary counter-terrorism and homeland security requirements, the authors studied the approaches of five large agencies: the Boston Police Department, the Houston Police Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The questions included how these agencies approached CT/HS: what resources they use, how their strategies had changed, the advantages and disaadvantages of the approach, and the trends in the evolution of fusion centers. It also seeks metrics on success and costs of theses programs.

Among the interesting and accurate statements include those that would speak to the need (and this is us talking, not RAND) for cyclical and ongoing training of LE personnel on CT and HS issues (okay, back to RAND), because of constant turnover within the departments as part of the life of an officer. One commander told researchers that it took two years to get someone up to speed in an intel environment, but

to advance in one’s career, sworn officers typically promote to new jobs and into different types of positions every couple of years. As a result, the substantial invest- ment in training, relationship-building, and knowledge-building can be lost right as these individuals become most effective in CT and HS positions.

The report’s most compelling findings in our narrow viewpoint are those on fusion centers. As the report notes, these have been suggested since the 1964 Warren Commission report, and only now have the fusion centers begun to come into their own. The report notes that, although many of the post-9/11 fusion centers began with a CT mission, the majority have expanded their mission to include all-crimes or all-hazards.

This paper is a good grounding for those interested in learning not just the funamental constructs of the nation’s 72 fusion centers, but also how they work with large agencies.