A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Policing Terrorism


Although terrorism has much in common with ordinary crime (LaFree and Dugan 2004), it also raises unique challenges for policing. Perhaps the greatest challenges center on how to use scarce police resources to fight crimes that are relatively uncommon, that have national and sometimes international implications, and that require intelligence that may be limited or altogether unavailable at the local and state levels. But despite these challenges, it is hard to imagine any effective national policy on preventing terrorism or responding to its aftermath that does not heavily rely on the hundreds of thousands of sworn police officers that serve the United States. Addressing these complex challenges requires a level of cooperation across federal, state, and local jurisdictions that has not been typical in the past. However, some optimism is provided by the fact that the strong connections to community that produce the best results for policing in general may also be the same characteristics that are most useful in preventing terrorist attacks and responding to those that are carried out. At the same time, providing support for counterterrorism must be done by local police in such a way that it does not erode their effectiveness in communities.


Publication Information

Full Citation:

LaFree, Gary. 2012. "Policing Terrorism." Ideas in American Policing (July): 1-12. http://www.policefoundation.org/sites/pftest1.drupalgardens.com/files/I…

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