News from TREXPO: A patrol officer's guide to terrorism prevention


Ed Lovette, now retired from “The Agency,” is an extremely passionate individual. During a break in the action at TREXPO West, he and I had the opportunity to discuss not law enforcement’s response to terrorism, but our responsibility and our ability to help prevent terrorist attacks on our soil. Ed’s philosophy is simple: “Do good police work.”

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Here are just a few things that local law enforcement officers can do to detect a potential terrorist attack in their own communities:

Educate Yourself. Understand the philosophies and the mission of al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups. Realize that they may be in your area and they may be recruiting not only young Muslims, but others, such as domestic terrorism groups who may not share their philosophies but share their desire to attack the Untied States. There are many active terrorist training camps right here in the United States, and many have had their operations interrupted or stopped by local law enforcement. Understanding the terrorist will help you to understand what to look for while you are on patrol.
Gather Intelligence. When you make a traffic stop or you come upon someone you suspect of terrorism involvement, ask questions. Where are they from? Where do they work? Are they visiting, on vacation, attending school? Gain rapport, just as you would on any investigative encounter. And realize that many terrorist cells are self-supporting, so they may be funding their operation with criminal activity such as drug trafficking, burglaries, and credit card fraud.
Report what you learn. We often hear the term “Intelligence Based Policing.” Often times, local officers have information that they know is valid and potentially important, but they are just not sure who to report it to. Get to know who is gathering and utilizing intelligence in your area and how to access them, whether it’s a local, state or federal agency. Information does no one any good if it’s not shared.

As Ed stressed during our conversation, it’s not “if” this country will be attacked again, it’s “when.” And law enforcement officers nationwide must add “terrorist” to the list of evildoers we hunt each and every day we hit the streets. Watch for more of my conversation with Ed Lovette coming up on P1TV.

About the author

Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety's School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy's website at www.femaleforces.com.

Contact Betsy Smith and Follow Betsy on Twitter

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