In Today’s Complex Local Security Environment
Learn “How to Keep You and Your Loved Ones Safe in a Crisis”
As the creator and instructor of “How to Keep You and Your Loved Ones Safe in a Crisis”, I developed the course idea based on lessons from a career protecting community and country. I have been on the frontlines of community struggles against epidemic levels of violence resulting from local conflicts between gang and drug factions within my jurisdiction in the United States. In war zones overseas, I have a similar experience of working in communities ripped apart and severely challenged by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), insurgent and terrorist violence from a variety of bad actors.
My local U.S. jurisdiction’s preparation to respond to terrorism immediately after 9-11, was a defining experience in my law enforcement career. The police unit in which I was assigned was not only responsible for continuing gang/gun/drug street investigations and violent crime suppression, but was additionally tasked to also become the city-wide SWAT team and tactical first responders to any terrorist incident. This entailed “fast tracking” a slew of classes on terrorism, WMDs as well as IED identification and response. I felt a strong commitment to being prepared to fight terrorism and this propelled me to conduct hours of research and take any available classes on this subject, even those not required.
I have learned many hands on “street-level” operational lessons on terrorism and staying safe in a crisis during the years since 9-11. In the creation of this class, I wanted to translate this knowledge into lessons for the average person. I believe there has been too much of a top down approach in protecting communities against terrorism and other motivations for mass violence. As related to the threat from terrorism, the average community sees confronting this danger as the primary responsibility of federal agencies. While local police have been and remain important partners in the fight against terrorism, most communities rely on federal partners to lead the effort to protect them locally.
Reaching all the way back to when I was an active police officer, I believe the local community and its law enforcement protectors have not reached its full potential in being utilized to identify and respond to terrorism dangers. I have taught terrorism awareness to local police in the U.S. and feel many officers are not provided an updated perspective and relevant training on current dynamics in their own community. As the local terrorist threat in the U.S. has transitioned into a threat primarily from radicalized Americans in their hometowns, the local community is really the best eyes and ears of the current fight.
In one of the lectures within “How to Keep You and Your Loved Ones Safe in a Crisis”, I discuss the comparison of facing terrorism with lessons from protecting communities from another violent complex crime issue – armed robbery. At the local level, these threats have similarities as they mostly come from persons inside or in close proximity to the community this activity harms. There are proactive actions by police officers that can stop both of these types of activities.
In the fight against armed robbery, an officer may foil this type of crime in progress. But most likely, an officer will connect the dots leading back to suspect(s) in a single or string of robberies. The officer may arrest a subject during a vehicle or pedestrian stop for illegally possessing a firearm. The officer recognizes that this individual fits the description of several recent armed robberies and notifies the detectives handling these cases. The follow-up investigation begins. The officer’s street arrest may have interdicted further robberies the suspect(s) were planning to commit and clear up past cases.
In this current era of local decentralized terrorism, the officer’s strength in stopping violence from occurring is at the earliest stages and comes from community interaction. As we know from terrorism criminal cases in the U.S. over the last decade, the main perpetrators and suspects of plots and attacks respectively have been radicalized lone individuals and small “sets” of three to four subjects together in the community (lately it’s due to ISIS ideology). This type danger is happening in all 50 states. The people that will recognize a person’s radicalization to violent extremism are those closest to these individuals. They are the family and friends of the potential terrorists. They see the transition in the individual’s thoughts and actions, the change in language and ideas, as well as images they identify with and their movement to support violent rhetoric. There are certain key words and activities ISIS supporters repeat that will make a person educated on the dangers take notice that the speaker may be headed down a path of radicalization to violent extremism that may result in terrorist activity.
As local police have always been responsible for building trust and dealing with issues in communities, they are the authorities most accessible to the family or friends of those radicalizing to terrorist ideology in our communities. In a terrorism awareness class I presented to local officers, one of the participants described to me a scenario he was dealing with during a break. He specified there was a young man in his patrol area he had dealt with since the person was a young teen. This individual had always faced challenges from mental illness. He was now flirting with the ISIS message and the officer wanted to know resources available to deal with this type of situation. Unfortunately, there are no community level resources for radicalization intervention programs as there are for drugs and other types of dangerous addictions.
I advised the officer that the only terrorism resource currently available is contacting the State Fusion Center for guidance and they would be interested in a person flirting with the ISIS message. A concerning element about those radicalizing to ISIS’ ideology is, for many, there is a very short trigger time from flirting to carrying out a heinous act in the community. This is especially true as these individuals are continually inundated by messages from ISIS overseas operatives cultivating, urging and recommending that they “kill where they live”. As far as any early engagement of those radicalizing, local law enforcement are going to be the presence in the community identifying these individuals, as well as being approached about these type issues by family, friends and other community members during regular duties.
To learn more about this topic, please visit my online classes here.