Meredith Mays, Legislative Representative, IACP
ACP President Joseph C. Carter testified last month before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. He highlighted crucial elements that must be included in our nation’s homeland security plan, including a broad-based funding strategy, prevention, and information and intelligence sharing.
Carter described the need for a broad-based funding effort that builds our nation’s prevention and response capabilities from the ground up. He warned that developing assistance programs that target only urban areas is a fundamentally flawed strategy. As he stated, “It is vital that a baseline capability be established in all communities, not just urban areas or those determined to be at greatest risk.” Carter noted that “as larger metropolitan areas become more secure, terrorists will seek out other, less protected targets to attack. . . . As we move forward in developing our national homeland security strategy, we must remember that we are a nation of communities and that all of our communities are at risk.”
In his testimony, Carter also said that the prevention of terrorist attacks must play a central role in our national homeland security strategy: “Prevention of terrorist attacks must be the paramount priority in any homeland security strategy.” 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.” Maintaining this focus, he testified, is not the way “to make our homeland and hometowns safer.”
Carter also emphasized the vital role that state, tribal, and local law enforcement play in homeland security efforts and the need for improved cooperation and information sharing between law enforcement agencies at all levels of government. Carter reiterated the IACP’s strong support of the Information Sharing Environment Implementation Plan recently submitted by the Office of National Intelligence. The IACP has sent a letter to congressional leaders supporting this plan.
Other witnesses at the January 9 hearing included Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City and 9/11 Commission members Lee H. Hamilton, Slade Gorton, and Timothy J. Roemer. This is the first in a series of hearings on recommendations made by that commission.
House Passes IACP-Supported Measures
On January 9, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007, which contains two provisions strongly supported by the IACP.
The two provisions, the Fusion and Law Enforcement Education and Teaming (FLEET) Grant Program and the Border Intelligence Fusion Center Program, come not from the 9/11 Commission report but from the Law Enforcement Assistance and Partnership (LEAP) Strategy issued last year by the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Bennie G. Thompson (D-Mississippi).
The FLEET Grant Program would allow state, local, and tribal law enforcement to participate in state and local fusion centers. This involvement could build relationships across every level and discipline of government and the private sector and ensure that criminal intelligence and other information is shared with local jurisdictions.
The Border Intelligence Fusion Center Program would establish and authorize funding for Customs and Border Protection officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to be stationed at border state fusion centers. The program seeks to generate border-related intelligence products that are relevant to the police in those states.
The IACP believes that the adoption of these two provisions would represent a major step toward enabling the law enforcement community to better detect, disrupt, and prevent future acts of terrorism. To that end, President Carter sent a letter to Chairman Thompson supporting those provisions.
In the letter, Carter wrote that the provisions reflect the reality that terrorists often live in our communities, travel on our highways, and shop in our stores while planning, conducting surveillance, or securing the resources necessary to mount their attacks.
“As we discovered in the aftermath of September 11, several of the terrorists involved in those attacks had routine encounters with state and local law enforcement officials in the weeks and months before the attack,” Carter wrote. “If state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers are adequately equipped and trained and fully integrated into an information and intelligence sharing network, they can be invaluable assets in efforts to identify and apprehend suspected terrorists before they strike.”
It is the IACP’s belief that these two provisions emphasize the vital role that state, local, and tribal law enforcement must play in the development and dissemination of critical intelligence to detect, prevent, prepare for, and respond to acts of terrorism. It is also the IACP’s position that they will help ensure that law enforcement agencies at all levels of government are equal partners and allow state, local, and tribal law enforcement to participate more actively in the intelligence gathering and sharing process.
H.R. 1 has been sent to the Senate for consideration. The IACP will continue its efforts to ensure that the needs of state and local law enforcement are addressed in any reform billbased on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.■