Law Enforcement Innovations in Reaction to The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and the Virginia Tech Massacre

Law Enforcement Innovations in Reaction to The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks and the Virginia Tech Massacre

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The terrorist attacks to the World Trade Center towers in New York City on September 11, 2001 has changed the way federal, state and local police departments communicate with each other, their structures, and operations. The new federal organization known as Homeland Security set out to coordinate their work at the state level, collect, analyze and share pertinent information and intelligence, protect key infrastructure and assets, secure the nation’s borders and ports, team up with federal and local task forces, and prepare new response training, equipment, systems and strategies (Foster and Cordner, 2005). The Federal Bureau of Investigation also shifted focus from addressing traditional crimes to preventing terrorist attacks. This is a change in strategy much like the change between the reform and community policing eras (National Research Council, 2004).

It would be next to impossible for federal agencies to work directly with local agencies since there are around 18,000 local departments throughout the nation (Foster and Cordner, 2005). Occurrences such as these are the downfall of a decentralized police system, but 9/11 has created more cohesion through the federal, state and local agencies (National Research Council, 2004). This resulted from state agencies that were selected as a liaison between the federal and local law agencies to do business such as disseminating information, sharing resources and asking for assistance (Foster and Cordner, 2005). This centralization makes more levels of administration responsible for strategies and tactics (Kelling and Moore, 1988).

State agencies saw a 75.4 percent increase in terrorism related intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination, 61.3 percent increase in ...


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..., 2008; Rush, 2008; Kelling and Moore, 1988). These systems fall into the category of community policing as these campus police departments engage the community in the prevention of crime (Walsh, 2001).

9/11 has placed terrorist prevention in the hands of the local law enforcement agencies and reorganized the systems of law enforcement throughout our country. School shootings such as the massacre at Virginia Tech have heightened the need for security measures that can reach people quickly and on a mass scale. Where we once thought we were safe, now large-scale acts of lawlessness have brought safety and security to the fore. These acts of violence have already changed the strategies of law enforcement. If these changes give any picture of the future strategies and tactics will become more centralized and the community will be engaged to a higher degree.

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