Law Enforcement Perspective: International Association of Chiefs of Police Interview with Bart R. Johnson

By Matthew Harwood

Increasingly local police are seen as first preventers of terrorism. Is there a risk that law enforcement has become too consumed with antiterrorism, thereby neglecting their traditional policing roles?

Counterterrorism certainly has been a priority over the past 10 years, but I don’t believe anything else has been diminished because of the priority within the federal government and the intelligence community to prevent terrorism. Once again, I go back to the fact that there’s no mystery about terrorism—it’s a criminal act. It’s perpetrated by bad individuals and organizations who want to hurt the United States. And to do that, they need to plot, plan, conspire, surveil, time, acquire, and execute their plots. It’s law enforcement—and an informed public—who are best equipped to identify, not only terrorism, but crime in general.

Right now, what worries law enforcement executives the most across the country?

They’re facing unprecedented budgetary cuts and issues and loss of personnel, which is once again highlighting the need for collaboration, IT infrastructure, information sharing, and intelligence analysis to create and find those efficiencies. It is important to support the intelligence cycle since it does create opportunities for efficiencies and the smart application of diminishing resources to problem areas. In other words: intelligence-led policing. Law enforcement is, and needs to be, smarter about what they’re doing in tough budgetary times.



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