Police Chiefs Moving to Share Terror by Broader, J M. in New York Times
From information published in the article, ‘Police Chiefs Moving to Share Terror Data’ by John M. Broader published in July 2005, it is clear that there are challenges relating to sharing of information on terror threats. One would expect that after a devastating blow like what happened when terrorists struck in September eleventh. The situation is almost the same as what was before 2001.
In the article, the reporter says federal officials as admitted by Chief William J. Bratton, were reluctant or uninterested in sharing information on terror threats. This is the reason why police chiefs from around the country were forming an informal network to enhance rapid communication of information on terrorist related incidences(Linden, 2007).
One of the key sticky issue affecting information sharing was that information from the homeland security department, though good and worthwhile, often was disseminated too late to be put to use by local police departments. The intelligence network did not work closely with the local police chiefs and did not involve them in their information sharing network. By the time information reaches the local police departments, it is often too late that no preparation time is available.
One of the issues that affect information sharing between intelligence agencies and local police revolves around difference in focus. While intelligence agencies focus on gathering information towards eventually defeating terrorism or crime, the local police have to utilize intelligence in the now and avert, prevent or contain terrorist activity. Intelligence agencies are more geared towards analyzing and understanding terrorism in terms of trends and movements while the local police was more concerned with pinpointing suspects and taking definitive action against them. Often, given local police departments are not privileged with Intelligence agencies’ advantages, local police are found of guard and have to make on the spot decisions towards troops deployment to deal with a terrorist act already taking place.
It just takes too long for the homeland security division and the federal agencies to update or avail relevant information to local police departments. The described scenario is what has led to local police departments networking with other local police department so as to form a system of gathering terrorist related information and thus take appropriate information. This kind of arrangement is seen as a preferred solution to having to wait for national intelligence networks to provide required or desired information (.Broader, 2005).
Sometimes intelligence networks stand in the way of justice by covering their contact people who are terrorists in themselves. To hide their contacts, they provide piecemeal or un-actionable information to the local police departments. Although it may work in the interest of the intelligence collecting concern; however, the danger it exposes the nation to, is more than imaginable. Some of those contact people are just as insane as the others they report about. Left undeterred or un-neutralized, they are as dangerous as any one would imagine.
The chiefs and directors at the homeland security department claim that they share as much information as possible with the local police departments. In some big cities, such as New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, the local police departments are represented in the homeland security operations team. As reported in the article, Mr. Filler, on behalf of the homeland security department did not see the necessity for a new interagency network to share data on terrorism (Broader, 2005).
Although Mr. Filler argued that a new interagency network was not necessary because the homeland department already served such a purpose, he agreed that the department did not share information as fast as the local police departments desired. The local department chiefs also acknowledge that information from the homeland security department is good enough. The issue is that the information is not timely; it is slow in coming. The reason why it takes so long before information is disseminated by homeland security department is because, the department strives towards disseminating only accurate and well researched and established information.
Therefore, the point of contention is that while local police departments were keen on being tipped on clues or development as they unveiled, the homeland security department is not keen on sharing crude, raw or unrefined information that has been tested and retested towards eliminating possible mistakes or doubts. The challenge the homeland security department faces is being able to share inconclusive information with local police departments and making sure the local police departments take the information as such i.e. raw and inconclusive i.e. bound to change.
The local police departments consider what is termed by the homeland security department as raw to be the most crucial information. Armed with such like information, they are able to be on the alert early enough. Waiting for information to pass through all intelligence channels or networks before it is declared worthy disseminating is makes the difference between survival and massacre by a terrorist gang.
The importance of local police chiefs forming a network (both local and international) for sharing information and not waiting for intelligence agencies was augmented when a second wave of transit bombings hit London. Sharing among local police departments can enhance their response thus leading to efficiency in handling terrorist incidences. Such like information or clues that inform police deployment thus a timely way of dealing with threats or incidences (Trager, 1986).
It has to be understood that intelligence networks often may also be lacking in information that the local police department can access. It is only through the local police department, homeland security department and other federal agencies sharing information properly that threats can be dealt with adequately. So far, challenges to do with intelligence not compromising their contacts while at the same time not keeping local police in the dark abound. How to deal with such issues is tricky and no solutions or efforts to provide a balance have been forth coming. Sharing of information amongst local police departments across countries and even continents is crucial. However, it would be more beneficial if at the local level all security, law enforcement and crime fighting units worked together and shared information in a timely way(Broader, 2005).
Having each local department do intelligence and infiltrate crime units in its own way while at the same time having federal agencies and intelligence networks is more likely to be unsuccessful. Difference in functions or concerns may lead to difference in methodology and approach to terrorism, but that informs why information sharing is important. Nothing has been done by either group to change or institute better information sharing mechanisms. Security agencies; federal and local remain at logger heads rather than looking at each other as complimentary outfits. To some extent, some forces see or take others for competing concerns and not complimentary groups or force. From such like an outlook; of course things remain unchanged despite the lessons that 9/11/2001 should have taught all (Trager, 1986).
University of Michigan Documents Centre, America's War against Terrorism
World Trade Center/Pentagon. Terrorism and the Aftermath, accessed on 2/06/2009
Broader, J M. (2005) Police Chiefs Moving to Share Terror Data accessed on 2/06/2009 at:
Trager , O. (1986). Fighting Terrorism: Negotiation Or Retaliation? Facts on File
Linden, E. V. (2007). Focus on Terrorism. Nova Publishers