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Back to Archives | Back to February 2004 Contents 

Impacts of Domestic Security on Law Enforcement Agencies

By Deputy Chief John Van Etten, Panama City, Florida, Police Department

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, thrust local law enforcement in the United States into a new age of domestic security. The nation was stunned and shocked at the loss of life and the devastation caused by these horrific terrorist acts. One of the responses to this trauma was the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The newly formed department uses all available resources in a national effort to prevent terrorist attacks. The national effort to ensure homeland security encompasses state, county, and municipal governments that have to address the security concerns in their communities. The cost of security will take the form of ensuring that police have adequate personnel and equipment, planning, training, and holding exercises to improve response to domestic terrorist attacks. It will be important for law enforcement agencies to be able to measure and assess their capabilities for dealing with these new security concerns.

The National Strategy for Homeland Security defines "homeland security" as "a concerted effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur."1 Homeland security is domestic security and to meet these objectives it will take a cooperative effort from all law enforcement agencies.

Modern Terrorism
The modern era of terrorism-that is, terrorism as we know it today-began in the late 1960s, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.2 Worldwide there were 14,000 terrorist attacks from 1968 through 1999, and they resulted in more than 10,000 deaths.3 From 1980 through 1999, 327 terrorist incidents were carried out in the United States, and the deadliest attacks in that period occurred between 1990 and 1999.4 During this 19-year span, law enforcement officials were able to prevent 83 terrorist acts, of which international terrorists planned 47.5 It is difficult to measure or document the number of incidents that may have been prevented due to the casual interceptions by law enforcement officials. A casual interception could be as simple as a suspect's committing a nonterrorist crime, being detained by law enforcement, and thereby missing out on the opportunity to commit the terrorist act.

Funding for Local Agencies
Funding for law enforcement agencies is a growing concern for county and municipal governments that have to allocate adequate funding for the domestic security issues facing local communities. Local governments continue to struggle with the faltering economy, which has further depleted their funding. This funding is crucial to providing the general or basic services to its citizens. These funding issues are of concern for the federal and state governments as well. In "Securing the Homeland, Strengthening the Nation," President Bush proposes a budget request of $3.5 billion "to enhance first responders' response capabilities in communities across the nation. The funds will support states and communities as they conduct exercises, purchase equipment, and train personnel."6 Funding is the critical element for agencies in formulating a successful campaign to fight terrorism and to adequately attend to the domestic security issues facing their communities.

To assess domestic security's impact on local law enforcement agencies in Florida, the author designed and distributed an online survey instrument consisting of nine questions, constructed using hypertext markup language (HTML), and placed into electronic mail (e-mail) for dissemination. The HTML allowed the survey to be drafted into an easy-to-use answer sheet designed to allow the user to read each question, checked a box or enter a response in the corresponding space provided on the e-mail survey, and send the completed survey instrument to the author's e-mail account by pressing the send button at the bottom of the e-mail survey. The author sent the e-mail survey instrument to each recipient only once, did not send a reminder message, and gave recipients two weeks to return completed survey instruments. This type of data collection process was used in order to encourage a greater participation from the recipients of the survey and for ease of collecting and compiling the results for analysis. 7

The following nine-question survey was mailed electronically to the participating agencies.

Question 1: Number of sworn officer currently employed full time at your department?
1-49    50-99    100+
Response: Thirty-five percent of respondent agencies employ one to 49 sworn officers; 29 percent had 50 to 99 sworn officers; and 35 percent had 100 or more sworn officers.

Question 2: Number of sworn officer activated for military service after September 11, 2001?
Check this box if none, or insert number ___.
Response: The respondent law enforcement agencies had an average of two officers activated for military service since September 11, 2001.

Question 3: Approximately how much in federal and state funding has your department received for domestic security issues since September 11, 2001?
None    $1-5,000    $5,001-15,000
$15,001-25,000    over $25,000
Response: Seventy-five percent of the respondent agencies had not received any financial assistance from the state or federal government. Six percent received more than $25,000 in financial support from the state or federal government.

Question 4: How would you describe the impact of domestic security issues since September 11, 2001, on your budget?
Not affected    Moderately affected
Severely affected
Response: Eighty-two percent of the agencies had moderate to severe impacts on their budgets, while 18 percent of the agencies reported no financial impact.

Question 5: Has your department hired additional personnel (sworn or nonsworn) to handle domestic security issues since September 11, 2001?
Yes    No
Response: Ninety-four percent of respondent agencies had not hired any additional personnel to handle domestic security issues.

Question 6: Has your department reassigned personnel to handle domestic security issues since September 11, 2001?
Yes    No
Response: Forty-seven percent of respondent agencies had reassigned personnel to compensate for the demand of domestic security issues.

Question 7: Approximately how many overtime hours have been used for domestic security issues for the past 12 months?
None    1-50 hours    51-100 hours
101-500 hours    500+ hours
Response: Fifty-seven percent of respondent agencies had encountered more than 101 hours of overtime to compensate for security needs in the 12 months before June 2003.

Question 8: How many hours of training has your department implemented per officer per year for domestic security-related issues?
None    1-10 hours
11-20 hours    21+ hours
Response: One hundred percent of respondent agencies had obtained at least one to 10 hours of training per officer per year on domestic security issues.

Question 9: Is your department better prepared to handle domestic security issues since September 11, 2001?
Yes    No
Response: Ninety-four percent of all law enforcement agencies believed that their agency was better prepared to deal with domestic security issues since September 11, 2001.

Editor's note: The author sent 187 surveys by e-mail to Florida county and municipal law enforcement agencies. Twenty of the surveys were returned due to expired e-mail addresses. Of the remaining 167, respondents completed and returned 17 to the researcher. These 17 surveys represent a 10 percent return rate.

Financial Impact of Homeland Security
Domestic security issues have had a moderate to significant impact on law enforcement agencies in the state of Florida. One hundred percent of the agencies responding to this survey had received some type of domestic security training. Training officers on how to deal with terrorism has obviously been a priority for these agencies. One organization that supports training for domestic security is the Florida Office of State and Local Domestic Preparedness Support (OSLDPS). According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "Since the inception of the OSLDPS, it has trained over 60,000 emergency responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, HAZMAT, and emergency management personnel."8

Almost 50 percent of respondent agencies responding to the survey have reassigned personnel to handle domestic security issues, which could mean that agencies are reevaluating their allocation of manpower and reprioritizing their resources and assessing what crimes will receive priority status. The reassignments led to additional overtime hours for more than half of the agencies.

These costs would appear to be the norm instead of the exception, considering that 82 percent of respondent agencies showed that their budgets were moderately to severely affected by domestic security issues. With only 25 percent of respondent agencies receiving some funding, there appears to be a greater need for financial assistance.

In order for law enforcement agencies to respond to these new areas of responsibility, funding must be forthcoming. Without it, there will continue to be understaffed agencies lacking the training to handle domestic security issues. Law enforcement agencies will continue their search for funding while tending to the most pressing issues that face their community. The effects of this new age of domestic security have been pretty revealing as to what some of the needs are for these agencies. Additional funding for equipment, overtime, personnel, and training would serve these law enforcement agencies well and help ensure that they will be able to adequately respond to the domestic security needs of their communities.

Next Budget Cycle
At left is the survey instrument sent by the author to county and municipal law enforcement agencies in Florida. Agencies and organizations are encouraged to replicate this survey in the various states to assess the impact of domestic security on local law enforcement. The results of this survey were very similar to the results of a survey conducted by the IACP Patrol and Tactical Operations Committee.9 Only 10 percent of the 4,500 agencies responding to the committee's survey had received additional funding for homeland security, while 80 percent of the agencies had increased their preparedness by actions such as purchasing new equipment, increasing training, increasing manpower, enhancing preparedness plans, and creating partnerships.

One of the early results of these surveys show that the federal government will not carry the financial burden for homeland security alone. Reassignment of personnel within the department from current duties to homeland security duties and absorbing the increased costs within the current budget is how local law enforcement is now coping with this additional responsibility.

Local governments will need to make some hard decisions in the future. Funding from the federal government will flow to states and certain key cities to implement the national preparedness plan, but this will not be sufficient to completely finance homeland security efforts locally. A wide array of critical infrastructure and key resources that are potential terrorist targets are owned and operated by local and state governments as well as the private sector located in the local communities. Many of these local communities will not receive adequate financial assistance from either the federal or state government to implement the needed strategic security plan for local critical infrastructures and resources. Although these infrastructures and resources are local, they span all sectors of the economy and provide the essential safety, health, and other services to all citizens. As shown by the 2003 power failure from Ohio through the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states and into Canada, these infrastructures are interconnected. Strategic improvements by local governments and law enforcement, working with the community's private sector, are essential to make it more difficult for terrorists attacks to succeed and then, if an attack occurs, to provide the appropriate response to lessen the impact. This need is new to local law enforcement, and planning for funding of this need is new to the local communities.

Local law enforcement executives should collect factual information regarding personnel, training, and equipment costs associated with homeland security and establish a case for this funding in their local budgets to augment funding received through the national homeland security support effort. Two years of financial need history is now available to draw upon during the development of local preparedness plans. Each community should ensure that strategic security enhancement of the critical infrastructures and resources is in place to deter, mitigate, or neutralize potential attacks.

Law enforcement executives are encouraged to replicate the survey to establish their financial baseline for domestic security in the community.

1 White House Office of Homeland Security, "The National Strategy for Homeland Security" (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 2002),

2 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Terrorism in the United States" (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1999), http://

3 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Terrorism in the United States."

4 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Terrorism in the United States."

5 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Terrorism in the United States."

6 President George W. Bush, "Securing the Homeland, Strengthening the Nation" (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, n.d.),

7 Dean John Champion, Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology, 2nd ed. (Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999).

8 U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, "Countering Terrorism and Ensuring Domestic Preparedness," Office of Justice Programs Annual Report: Fiscal Year 2000 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office): 100-107,

9 To view a report on the results of the IACP Patrol and Tactical Operations Committee's survey, go to, select Divisions/Sections/Committees, select Committees, select Patrol and Tactical Operations Committee, and then select Homeland Security Preparedness Survey.


From The Police Chief, vol. 71, no. 2, February 2004. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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