NEW ORLEANS — U.S. security chief Michael Chertoff praised the continued vigilance of law enforcement officers working together in thwarting terrorism at home and abroad.
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff speaking at the 114th IACP Conference.
Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, made the comments during a keynote speech Monday to the 114th IACP Conference in New Orleans.
"What each of you does in your community has a great deal to do with keeping the nation safe," he told attendees. "We value your support and effort."
He went on to promise local agencies the 21st century anti-terror tools they need, including ground-based radar, new radios and communication equipment, and new sensor technology.
The DHS, Chertoff said, is moving toward an integrated platform called "SBI Net" that uses streaming video, mapping and data sharing to pinpoint the coordinates of criminal activity taking place in communities across the country.
"All of you face the threat of terrorism inside your individual communities. Agencies must plan before the fact and define roles and response at all levels," he said. "We must plug the gaps."
Earlier, IACP President Joseph Carter gave a poignant thank you to the men and women who have served and are serving in the military in defense of the United States.
"We wish them the best and a safe, speedy return to their families, friends, and loved ones," he said.
He then paused to call special attention to a 19-year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department, Detective Thelonious Dukes, 47, who was wounded in gunfire this past Saturday, and is currently in critical but stable condition.
Collective thoughts and prayers were encouraged and blood donation stations in his name were set up in the convention center.
The final guest speaker of the morning was FBI Director Robert Mueller, called a champion of law enforcement, as well as an outstanding prosecutor of gun crime, organized crime, and racketeering networks.
Carter called him a "leader in the efforts to improve intelligence channels of cooperation between federal and local levels of law enforcement."
Mueller told the assembly attendees that the context they are operating in has changed.
"National security is as much about reducing the number of homicides on the street as it is about stopping terrorism," he said.
Mueller praised police for helping prevent another September 11th at home, but warned that, as al-Qaeda regroups in Pakistan, many potential terrorists could penetrate U.S. borders.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller speaking at the 114th IACP Conference.
He told attendees that "we need your eyes and ears more than ever" to address the threat of homegrown terrorists with no ties to al-Qaeda.
Mueller went on to speak about the effects of violent crime in the United States, and insisted that the FBI is with officers in addressing the problem.
He emphasized the need to focus on safe streets in the form of task forces, especially in mid-sized cities. This requires partnerships, he said, combining resources and expertise between agencies at all levels.
With budget and funding constraints, he said, "we must do more with less."