Law Enforcement’s Continuing Role in Homeland Security

In a recent Gallup poll, less than one-half of one percent of respondents ranked terrorism as the most important issue facing the United States.1 Contrast this with a similar poll taken months after 9/11, when terrorism was ranked as one of the top issues facing the country.2 This data point should come as no surprise. It has been more than 11 years since we have suffered a major attack domestically, and we are facing other overriding problems now, such as the economy.

That terrorism does not preoccupy the thinking of most Americans should be seen as a victory over the radical Islamist Osama bin Laden and his followers. While we want citizens to be vigilant and to report suspicious activity to law enforcement, we do not want them to be preoccupied with concerns about terrorism. And, while we want them to be partners with law enforcement in the coproduction of safety, we do not want citizens in a free and democratic society to be overwhelmed by fear.