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Policing rural America: Soft target terrorism


If you are like most people in any type of emergency services profession you have no doubt been seated in a classroom someplace in the past several years and were saturated with information, training, and new policies related to terrorism.

I spend plenty of time in training sessions tapping my fingers, drinking coffee, trying to figure out, “How does this pertain to me?” I’ll even admit to thinking every so often, “Is this over yet?”

Let me back up a bit. I am not a suit-and-tie expert in the field of terrorism. I am simply another law enforcement officer that enjoys catching bad guys, and I am not fussy about who gets to go to jail. However, when you do a little research on terrorism — both historically and what the future may bring — you realize this is a topic that pertains to all of us. If you study terrorism in detail you find that it really makes sense that rural officers will be seeing the effects of this type of activity. You see, anything that might be considered a “major terrorist target” is probably now being protected to some extent, and in some cases to the highest possible degree.

What does that leave? It leaves soft targets in rural America — places that have little protection or surveillance equipment — like: hydroelectric dams, large bridges, drinking/irrigation water supplies, farm crops, strategically or historically important forests, cattle farms, ski resorts, casinos, ferries, national parks, sporting events, private schools, high-dollar summer camps, college campuses, and even some smaller military bases.

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