By Walter A. McNeil, President, IACP; and Chief of Police, Quincy Police Department, Quincy, Florida
The terrorist threat facing the United States has evolved significantly in the last ten years, and it continues to evolve. The main threat now emanates from within the borders of the United States in the form of the Homegrown Violent Extremists (HGVEs).
HGVEs will not be detected by the intelligence community and the U.S. Department of Defense because of the lack of international travel and the lack of communication with persons overseas. HGVEs will be detected by state, local, and tribal (SLT) police in their everyday interactions with the public.
IACP leadership attended a meeting at the White House, during which they provided insight on how the Obama administration’s recently released Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States can be implemented locally.
The chiefs and state police colonels representing the IACP at the White House meeting agreed with the administration’s plan that empowering SLT partners is integral to protecting communities against violent extremists, and efforts should build upon existing local partnerships; on information-driven, community-based solutions; and on community-oriented policing strategies.
IACP leadership expressed concern about the reduction in funding for law enforcement prevention funds and proposed the following to the administration:
- Ensure that 25 percent of available funds are still dedicated to the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP) and that the LETPP be reinstated as a standalone program. The LETPP is the only funding source that is dedicated solely to terrorism prevention and to meeting law enforcement’s unique mission to detect and prevent future terrorist attacks.
- Eligible LETPP activities should be more narrowly defined to fund critical law enforcement programs such as state and major urban area fusion centers; implementation of the Nationwide SAR Initiative; implementation of countering violent extremism efforts, including the training of personnel to understand, recognize, and respond to preoperational activity and other crimes that are precursors or indicators of terrorist activity; and the development and implementation of community engagement programs to support identification and mitigation of such potential threats.
This approach reflects a commitment to SLT law enforcement, ensuring the prevention of terrorism is the highest priority of the Department of Homeland Security, and also reflects the commitment to SLT law enforcement partners in ensuring they are fully engaged as partners in dealing with homegrown threats.