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Foreign Policy

Policing National Security Threats

Policing National Security Threats

Organizations that threaten national security have become increasingly advanced, both technologically and strategically, causing normal policing tactics to become outdated and ineffective.

President Barack Obama meets with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in the Oval Office, May 9, 2011. Pete Souza/White House

Adapting policing strategies to combat a modern asymmetrical foe could alleviate the bombardment of national security threats compromised by criminal and terrorist organizations. The establishment of a myriad of intelligence and law enforcement agencies has met challenges that arise as a result of domestic and international threats, and national security enforcement agencies have been organized to target and combat these threats. The public perception of national security threats are often associated with issues ranging from narcotics and weapons smuggling to terrorist attacks and human smuggling.

Moreover, national security threats evolve continuously, becoming increasingly advanced both strategically and technologically, making it more difficult to counter contemporary threats. As technology advances, new more intellectually savvy threats emerge, and the use of advanced technology has become an increasingly prevalent tool for extremist and criminal elements to carry out threats against the United States. Historically, United States military and police forces have been the most technologically advanced entities in the world.

However, the technology acquired by many criminal and terrorist organizations match or surpass the technologies available to U.S. forces. The reversal of technologic supremacy has caused the price of defending the U.S. to skyrocket. Despite historically high funding for national defense, the U.S. is still not progressively safer and terror and criminal elements continue to threaten with violence and subversion. So how can the United State effectively and efficiently deter these criminal advancements? Frankly, the answer seems relatively obvious- military and law enforcement entities, both federal and state, must collaborate efforts and resources to combat foreign and domestic threats that dominate the security debate.

Collaborative efforts can assist with the strain of providing sufficient funding, manpower and technological needs to fulfill efficient enforcement strategies. The United States is blessed and also plagued with their current policing structure. The current structure provides a myriad of policing agencies designed to provide sufficient coverage throughout the United States; however each, of the many, agencies are also in need of adequate funding. The current law enforcement strategies of increasing presence in highly volatile areas, can become very costly and an increasing burden on taxpayers. The law enforcement community can lessen their burden on taxpayers through strategic enforcement efforts. By collaborating labor and technological resources; federal, state, and local law enforcement entities can more efficiently secure their areas of operation without increasing budgetary demands.

This can greatly benefit smaller agencies that are in desperate need of increased manpower and new technologies to keep up with the ever-modernizing threats of asymmetrical criminal elements. The current strategy to increase funding and manpower to combat threats on US national security is obsolete and is increasing the national debt. Collaborative efforts will not only increase efficiency of law enforcement efforts but also reduce the reliance for future funding increases.

Until recently, most agencies defended their specific national security realm without sharing intelligence across the law enforcement and intelligence communities. These agencies enforce operations targeting threats independently while other agencies may be conducting identical operations targeting the same threats. Thus, agencies are conducting and developing intelligence and investigative leads without sharing crucial information with the other agencies to further the investigation as a whole. Bridging the communication gap and collaboration between agencies can produce more robust intelligence leading to more comprehensive investigations and prosecutions. Collaboration will not only produce more effective enforcement operations but will also significantly reduce investigation times, leading to more swift enforcement and prosecution actions.

The efforts to collaborate were significantly increased after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. After reports illustrating the lack of intelligence sharing between the FBI and CIA were published, who were simultaneously investigating potential threats on the United States, many citizens and policymakers were outraged by the lack of cooperation of intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This birthed the urgency for collaborative efforts within the realm of Intelligence and National Security. Yet, many agencies are still conducting many of their operations without the collaboration of their Federal, State, and local partners.

Many agencies are embracing collaborative efforts to combat threats which span multiple enforcement jurisdictions. The Sinaloa Cartel, for example, is one of the United States’ primary targets in the War on Drugs, immigration, arms trafficking as well as violence along the southern border. Agencies such as the DEA, ATF, FBI, US Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as numerous state and local agencies are all conducting investigatory and interdiction operations targeting the Sinaloa Cartel. Joint Task Forces as well as collaborative efforts initiated by these agencies allow for furthered enforcement operations leading to increased prosecution of affiliates of the Cartel.

As an example; the Sinaloa Cartel conducts many drug, human, and arms trafficking operations utilizing a specific organization operating throughout southern Arizona. If the DEA would like to conduct a Drug Enforcement Operation in a certain area, they can significantly increase their presence and technology by partnering with the Border Patrol (the largest law enforcement agency in Arizona). Collaboration with state and local agencies can provide subject matter to experts in the area/region as well as benefit the investigation by adding state and local charges onto federal prosecutions. This is just one menial example of how collaboration or joint task forces can help advance future investigations

Collaborative enforcement is quickly becoming the future of policing for the United States. As we enter a new age of technology, criminal elements are becoming increasingly advanced making historical policing methods outdated and ineffective. Modernizing our policing methods is becoming absolutely necessary, and the desire for policing agency collaboration is growing. Currently the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, initiated an intelligence and enforcement directive collaborating all Federal, State, local and tribal agencies to combat transnational threats along the southwestern border. This directive has sparked an ongoing collaboration along the southwest border which has led to countless arrests and seizures, ultimately advancing the security of those communities threatened by violence along the border areas.

In partnership with the Lint Center for National Security Studies, International Policy Digest will be publishing a series of essays from the winners of a scholarship competition.

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3 comments
Ken
Ken

No mention of how all this bureaucratic kumbya is impacting Americans' civil rights?

If it's "all about the children" or "all about fighting terrorism", then people concerned over their liberties need to shove something in the pie-hole, eh?

Ken
Ken

No mention of how all this bureaucratic kumbya is impacting Americans' civil rights? If it's "all about the children" or "all about fighting terrorism", then people concerned over their liberties need to shove something in the pie-hole, eh?