The purpose of this study is to provide an in-depth understanding of the long-term adjustments that five large urban law enforcement agencies made in order to accommodate the renewed focus on counterterrorism and homeland security during nine years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as the advantages and challenges associated with this focus.
The research team visited five large urban law enforcement agencies and conducted on-site, in-depth interviews with personnel involved in developing or implementing counterterrorism or homeland security functions within their agency. Interviewees included agency leadership, sworn and civilian personnel involved with fusion centers, counterterrorism units, homeland security bureaus or divisions, specialized response units, training bureaus, grants management, and administration.
To select the five case study law enforcement agencies, the research team, in consultation with National Institute of Justice project staff, identified the following criteria: The agencies must be (1) located in major urban areas and jurisdictions with a high risk of terrorist attacks, (2) from different regions of the country, and (3) varied in their experience with counterterrorism and homeland security issues.
Five law enforcement agencies were selected: the Houston Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Boston Police Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Houston and Los Angeles are Tier I urban areas (considered to be at the highest risk for terrorism), and Boston, Las Vegas, and Miami-Dade are Tier II urban areas (next highest risk for terrorism). Las Vegas was selected because of the potential terrorist threat the city faces given its iconic status, while Houston, Miami-Dade, and Boston were selected in part because they are major port cities. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department was selected because it represents the largest sheriff's office in the United States and is responsible, along with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, for Region One Homeland Security in California.
Law enforcement agencies existing in the United States between March 2008 and December 2008
To guide the interviews, the research team developed a standardized protocol that addressed the following issues:
- The agency's counterterrorism and homeland security operations and regional role
- Organizational structures specific to counterterrorism and homeland security and how they have evolved over time, including internal adjustments such as shifting personnel, consolidating units, and expanding existing structures
- Perceptions about internal and external challenges associated with the focus on counterterrorism and homeland security, as well as developing relevant functions
- Information-sharing and fusion center issues
- Training and equipment issues related to counterterrorism and homeland security needs, including National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliance
- Resourcing of counterterrorism and homeland security efforts, including advantages and challenges associated with homeland security grant funding
- Impacts of federal, state, or local grant requirements on agencies and ways in which requirements either facilitate or hinder internal initiatives
- Suggestions about modifications to existing grant mechanisms to facilitate the use of funding, staff, or other resources for counterterrorism or homeland security.