- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

A national homeland security strategy that focuses on urban areas and seeks to bolster the country’s ability to respond to and recover from a terrorist attack is “fundamentally flawed,” says the head of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.IACP President Joseph C. Carter said the nation’s “paramount priority” should be the prevention of terrorist attacks in the nation and cited “a critical need” for improved cooperation and information sharing among law-enforcement agencies at all levels of government.”Unfortunately, the vast majority of federal homeland security efforts have focused on increasing our national capabilities to respond to and recover from a terrorist attack,” Chief Carter told The Washington Times.”Despite these efforts and the billions of dollars appropriated by Congress for homeland security initiatives, local law-enforcement executives have grown increasingly concerned over a homeland security strategy that has moved too slowly and has not fully comprehended the post-September 11 role of local law enforcement in securing our homeland,” he said.The veteran law-enforcement official, who also is chief of the Massachusetts Transit Police Department, where he is responsible for the safety of the public transportation system in 175 cities and towns, said the government’s urban anti-terrorism strategy “is not the way to make our homeland and hometowns safer.”Fundamentally,” he said, “hometown security is homeland security.”Chief Carter emphasized the “vital role” local law-enforcement agencies play in homeland security efforts.”As larger metropolitan areas become more secure, terrorists will seek out other less-protected targets to attack,” he said. “As we move forward in developing our national homeland security strategy, we must remember we are a nation of communities, and all of our communities are at risk.”Under the existing national strategies, we have not improved our ability to prevent a terrorist attack,” he said.The IACP is the world’s oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization of police executives, with more than 20,000 members in 89 countries. Its leadership consists of the chief executives of international, federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies.Chief Carter said the “incredible and horrific nature” of the September 11 attacks ushered in a new era of policing in the United States.”No longer could they focus their energies solely on traditional crime-fighting efforts,” he said. “Now they would be asked to confront a new threat perpetrated by individuals and organizations that had vastly different motivations and means of attack.”In the past five years, the chief said, several steps have been taken to confront the threat of terrorism, including the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the creation of programs to assist local law-enforcement agencies.But, he said, federal officials need to include local law-enforcement agencies as “full partners” in broad-based, locally designed terrorism-prevention programs that allow cities, towns and hamlets to use their resources “to meet the unique needs of their individual communities.”He said a successful homeland security strategy would be based on the knowledge that terrorist attacks in the United States are “inherently local crimes that require the immediate response of local authorities” despite their national or international repercussion.

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