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Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials

Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials     The United States has a unique position amongst the countries of the world;...

Friday, March 4, 2016

Week 5 notes - local police agencies

[Edit: this material is unsourced - it is not my own work.  I do not have the source references.  The information is provided for educational purposes]

The Gilmore Commission is the U.S. advisory panel for terrorism-related issues. The commission was established in December 2003 to study the nation's domestic response capabilities with regard to terrorism. The establishment of the commission has highlighted the fact that sufficient constitutional and legal authority exists for the president to employ military forces inside our borders.

The main function of the Gilmore Commission advisory panel is to assess the capabilities required to counteract terrorist attacks. The panel is responsible for examining counterterrorism capabilities at federal, state, and local levels. The duties and responsibilities of the panel are as follows:
  • Examine measures adopted by federal agencies to enhance their capabilities on tackling terrorism-related incidents.
  • Evaluate the progress of the training programs designed by federal agencies to train local agencies to respond appropriately to terrorism-related issues.
  • Assess the deficiencies in the programs designed as a response to incidents involving terrorism.
  • Advise and recommend strategies to ensure effective coordination between federal and local agencies in response to incidents involving terrorism.
  • Assess whether the funds provided by state and local governments are enough to develop effective local response capabilities.
The panel receives support and administrative directives from the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), which is a federally funded research and development center. NDRI acts as a coordinator between the advisory panel and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs.
Creation of NORTHCOM
After 9/11, the failure in air defense led to a breakdown in communication between the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In 2002, the focus of the DOD shifted to creating a new command called NORTHCOM. NORTHCOM is responsible for defending the land, airways, and waterways of the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, parts of the Caribbean, and Atlantic and Pacific coastal waters.
Role of the Police
The U.S. government uses a number of law enforcement agencies for homeland security. The aim is to gather intelligence at the lowest jurisdiction level and analyze the information to identify, deter, and counter any terrorist activities. Some of the agencies involved in homeland security are the police, highway patrols, the sheriff's office, and special-purpose police agencies.
The state police functions in the same way as local agencies but with statewide jurisdiction and state crime labs. Highway patrols also have crime labs but under a different umbrella structure.
In 35 states, the police have additional agencies with investigative powers. These agencies share power with their respective state police counterparts under an umbrella organization such as the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Department of Law Enforcement (DLE), or the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Highway patrols are police agencies with the authority to patrol state and federal highways. Although the main function of highway patrols is to enforce traffic safety compliance, they are also being increasingly used for homeland security—they assist the local police in gathering intelligence for homeland security. The crime or accident scene records and photographs maintained by highway patrols can prove to be a valuable source of information for assessing threats to homeland security. Added to this source of intelligence is information gathered through interviewing witnesses. Analysis of the information gathered by highway patrols can help the police understand the traffic crime trends in their jurisdiction, indicating any possible terrorist movements.
There are about 3,100 sheriffs in the United States. These sheriffs are elected officials, who exercise political control and influence. Besides law enforcement, they have additional duties such as running a jail, collecting taxes, serving papers, and ensuring courthouse security. Cities contract with sheriff's offices for police services through a contract system. All counties don't have sheriff's offices. Some large counties have county police departments run by a chief of police. Some counties have both a sheriff's office and a county police department. In fact, in the United States, the association between the sheriff's office and other police departments differs widely from state to state. For example, in the northeastern states, the sheriff's duties are mainly confined to state-level law enforcement agencies, the state police, and the local police.

Role of Special-Purpose Police Agencies
There are over 15,000 municipal police departments in the United States. These are more in number than any other type of agency. This number also includes the transit, school, and housing police. A complete list of all special-purpose police agencies includes the following authorities:
  • Animal cruelty
  • Beach
  • Harbor
  • Hospital
  • Housing
  • Port
  • Railroad
  • Sanitation
  • School
  • Transit
  • Transportation
The majority of municipal departments are small, having 10 or fewer officers. Larger municipal departments with 1,000 or more officers have specialized units such as crime analysis and the occasional profiler unit.
In some states, special-purpose police agencies do more than just providing security. In other states, for example, California, some special district forces are composed of fully-sworn peace officers with statewide authority. These agencies are responsible for protecting government property and can include the transit police, airport police, campus police, park police, and police departments.
Special-purpose police agencies try to cope with hazards created by human and nonhuman agents. With regard to homeland security, these agencies work toward maintaining law and order by preventing behaviors that might disturb others, investigating criminal activity, and referring suspected criminals to courts.
According to the 9/11 Commission report, preventing and responding to terrorism requires the critical involvement of state and local governments. Therefore, these combined law enforcement agencies are an important step toward the protection of U.S. citizens.

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