chapter  26
16 Pages

Handling a Terrorist Attack

No law enforcement agency wants to hear those words. Prior to three decades ago it

was likely that only the police agencies in large cities such as New York, Chicago, and

Washington, DC would have received such a notification. During the 1960s and early

1970s Vietnam war era, law enforcement agencies located near universities that were

experiencing large antiwar protests may have also encountered terrorist attacks.

Similarly, there were southern towns and cities where there might have been violent

attacks staged by Ku Klux Klan-type extremists in connection with the integration issue.

Otherwise, most law enforcement agencies probably would not have been worried about

terrorist attacks taking place within their jurisdiction. Much has changed during the past

two decades. The scope of terrorism has expanded with the growth of single-issue

extremism and the threat of international terrorism. Law enforcement agencies must

now place terrorism somewhere on their radar screens, if not in the middle of the view-

ing area. In today’s world any law enforcement agency, regardless of its size or location,

could receive the call to respond to a terrorist attack. The target may be something such

as the World Trade Center, located in the center of a huge city, it could be a minority

church in a medium-sized town, or it could be a mink farm located in an unincor-

porated area many miles from the nearest sheriff’s office. Similarly, law enforcement

agencies anywhere in the county could find terrorist safe houses, bomb factories, and

weapons and explosives training sites within their jurisdiction.