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…constantly evolving commodity

There are usually two sides to a story, but in the
case of information sharing, there are too many
sides to count. Developing information is a
constantly evolving commodity which can change in
the blink of an eye. Developing information is also
voluminous. Let's assume that some perfect system
were in place to disseminate all developing, and
unabridged, terrorist related  information through a
pipeline ending with you. Can you even begin to
imagine how inundated you'd be with mostly
useless information. Intelligence analysts exist to
determine the importance, accuracy, and relevancy
of information. It's not a perfect system, but there
is no perfect system.

…near and dear

When you see politicians and police chiefs publicly
posturing on the lack of information sharing
between federal agencies and local police
departments, they're simply posturing. Most  
politicians and people in top police leadership
positions are pretty ignorant when it comes to  
information processing, and the sharing of that
information. It may be hard to believe, but many  
think it's as simple as pushing a button on a
computer. Everyone should worry about terrorists'
attacks, but politicians and police chiefs also have to
worry about one particular result from a  terrorist
attack that is near and dear to their hearts… blame.
They're usually pretty good at assigning blame for
most things as low down the chain as possible, but
terrorism is unique. If  you're immediately present
at a terror attack, you'll probably be a victim, and
you won't be around to blame.

…tolerance for violence

Can you imagine how frustrated terrorists must be
with the United States of America?  They've blown
up our embassies, taken Americans hostage, and
murdered our soldiers, sailors,  airmen and marines.
Even when they attacked the Towers with a truck
bomb in the heart of New York City, they still
couldn't rise to the level of a speed bump to slow
the rolling behemoth called  America. In a country
where one city can have a higher murder rate than
most countries, acts of  terror can only be
successful if they can rise above our already high
tolerance for violence and  destruction.

…wildest expectations

On 9ll the terrorists finally got it right. The scale and
breadth of the attacks definitely got our attention.
The success of the attacks was probably beyond
the terrorists' wildest expectations.  Besides killing
thousands, they sucked a trillion dollars out of
America's economy in one day. As horrible as that
day was, it was probably necessary to get
Americans to take the scourge of  terrorism
seriously.

…blame and shame

Acts of terror are nothing new. politicians, and
those among us who know they're smarter than the
rest of us, bemoaned the horror of the attacks,
before they returned to their normal  politics of
blame and shame. America is no different than any
other country when it comes to the politics of
power. Power is the ultimate goal, and terror is just
another issue to be discussed and  debated. Our
self proclaimed intellectual superiors would have us
believe the evil of terror would not exist were it not
for our constitutional right of the pursuit of
happiness at the expense of others.

…three hundred years

While acts of terror have occurred in every
civilization since the beginning, the 21st  Century
poses terror threats never experienced or conceived
by past civilizations. Weapons of mass destruction
are currently a big item in the discuss and debate
arena. Weapons of mass destruction are nothing
new. In the 15th Century the Matchlock rifle was the
weapon of mass destruction. The Matchlock was a
heavy, cumbersome rifle requiring support to hold
the weapon  level. The shooter would light a wick
attached to a gunpowder charge which would ignite
gunpowder in the barrel to send the projectile on its
way. The Matchlock remained the state of the art
weapon of mass destruction for three hundred
years before the appearance of the Flintlock  rifle.

…the rest of the story

The Flintlock rifle had a much shorter life span, but
it killed plenty of people from its creation through
the American Civil War. Most of us know the rest of
the story. Today, weapons of mass destruction
have advanced so rapidly that the most response
the development of a new one receives is a yawn.
The so called smart weapons of this century have
taken the edge off the mass part of mass
destruction. Fortunately, mass still has some
significance when it comes to nuclear weapons.

…real meaning of mass

Terrorists have always had, and continue to have,
access to weapons of mass destruction with the
exception of nuclear weapons. There is no reason
to believe that terrorists will not, at  some point,
obtain and detonate a nuclear device. God help us,
politicians are all we have to prevent terrorists from
obtaining nuclear weapons, so it will be up to law
enforcement agencies  and police officers, like you,
to prevent the detonation of a weapon that puts
the real meaning of  mass back into mass
destruction.

…observing people and circumstances

There's nothing better than an offense, or, in police
jargon, pro-active enforcement. Police officers have
always been pro-active. The word patrol says it all.
As a patrol officer, you'll be  observing people and
circumstances on a continuous basis. No one can
ever know how many crimes, or terrorist acts for
that matter, have been prevented solely through
the action of a police  officer based on that police
officer's observations.

…suspicious signals

Any country's best defense against terrorism is its
police officers. A terrorist is nothing more than a
dangerous criminal. Just like any other criminal, the
terrorist will exude suspicious  signals readily
noticed by an observant police officer. While you'll
quickly learn that anything can happen at anytime
and anywhere, the possibility of that anything being
a terrorist attack is a greater possibility than ever
before.

…best defense

Think about this for a moment. Except for lands
and structures owned by the Federal  government,
the safety and security for every square mile of this
nation is the responsibility of  state and local police
officers. You might be a state patrol officer in the
southwest with a patrol area of 250 square miles,
or you might be patrolling in a large city where your
area of  responsibility is only two by four blocks.
Either way, if you're familiar with your area of
patrol,  you'll be the best defense against terrorism.

…high quality of intelligence

You'll hear a lot of commentary on the importance
of infiltrating terrorist organizations with informants
to gain high value human intelligence. While this is a
valid observation, I doubt  that many of the same
commentators realize the high quality of intelligence
that can be gained from a patrol officer who
continuously patrols a designated area. If every
police department in the nation required their patrol
officers to remain in an unchanged patrol area for a
minimum of five years, the availability of high
quality intelligence for terror related investigations
would be immeasurable.

…trust and respect

When an officer becomes a permanent day to day
presence in the same area of patrol,  residents
within that area will develop a higher comfort level
with that officer. Even residents who  generally view
police with suspicion will fairly evaluate an officer
they observe on a frequent  basis. Once an officer
establishes himself or herself as fair, knowledgeable,
and competent,  information becomes a natural
byproduct. There are many, many people who
would never provide any kind of information to a
stranger with a badge. Those same people will,
however, convey  valuable information to a patrol
officer who they trust and respect.

…instantly recognize

If you're employed by a department led by
experienced professionals who appreciate the
importance of the patrol function, you'll find
yourself assigned to a geographical area of patrol
on a continuous basis. Your supervisors and
commanders will continually impress upon you the
importance of your total familiarity with your patrol
area. Those same supervisors and  commanders
can then rightly hold you responsible for failing to
recognize situations or circumstances alien to your
area of responsibility. If you're fortunate enough to
experience this kind of stability, you'll instantly
recognize persons or activities not indigenous to
your area as well as constantly observing and
evaluating persons and activities which are
indigenous.

…fast movers

On the other hand, you could end up working in a
department led by inexperienced fast movers who
are so busy thinking out of the box that they have
little time, or inclination, to build a stable and well
informed patrol force. Their time will be spent
networking with the fast movers from other police
departments and government agencies in pursuit of
recognition for old ideas in new clothes. These
leaders will be loath to rely on telephones and email
preferring face to face communication with their
counterparts over good food in pleasant
surroundings. While these types of leaders would
be better suited to conduct inspirational seminars
on self esteem, their presence in police departments
is a reality.

…enormous control

Regardless of the experience or quality of a
department's leadership, you, as a police  officer,
have enormous control over your own development.
As long as you recognize the real  importance of
your microscopic position in the big picture, you'll
realize that any terror attack, or preparation for an
attack, will occur on some officer's microscopic
patch of turf. If you're  thoroughly familiar with your
patrol area, the odds against you detecting and
preventing an act of  terror are not that great.
Cops-Pols-Media
Terrorists
"The biggest fiction foisted on everybody is the
notion that all the new money and
bureaucracies will make information sharing a
reality among intelligence and law
enforcement agencies." ~ Barry M. Baker
September 11, 2001 should have outraged
Americans like no other event in history,  because
the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers, and
the Pentagon, were only a prelude of  things to
come. Unfortunately, only those people who were
eyewitnesses to the absolute horror of  that day will
know the full extent of the carnage.

…psychological well being

The American media almost immediately began to
sanitize the events of that day by first removing the
video taped images of very normal people leaping to
their deaths to avoid being  incinerated. Our media
nannies decided that such graphic reality would not
be good for our psychological well being. Besides,
there would be more important images to show us
such as rows of blooded and battered Iraqi
corpses; terrorist made video tapes of tearful
hostages pleading for their lives, and pictures of
terror suspects wearing panties on their heads.
…more bureaucracy

The politicians reacted in standard fashion by
declaring that things were broken, and they  
proceeded to fix the problems as they usually do.
They created committees to get to the bottom of  
things. After going through the committee exercise
and racking up as much television exposure as  
possible, they carried the tablets down from the
mountain. The solutions were clear; more  
bureaucracy, and more money to support the
expanded bureaucracy.

…latest high tech gadgets

Police departments across the nation eventually
received millions of dollars to upgrade and meet the
demands created by the war on terror. Most
departments used the money to upgrade  
technologically and purchase the latest high tech
gadgets. The biggest problem is most departments'
inability to fully utilize new technology at even a
fraction of its potential. After the dog and pony
shows for the local media, most of the new
purchases would experience little use.

…need to know

The biggest fiction foisted on everybody is the
notion that all the new money and bureaucracies will
make information sharing a reality among
intelligence and law enforcement agencies. It's a
nice idea, and it certainly is not a new idea. The
level and extent of information sharing is always in
the details, and the details always dictate a need to
know. You, as a police  officer, will always be the
last person with the need to know. When you're
brought into the circle,  you'll know that all other
means of resolving a situation have failed.

…exact and verified

There are times when an incident can best be
resolved when relevant information is confined to a
small number of people within a single agency.
When information is exact and verified,
dissemination of the information could jeopardize
the prevention of an incident or the apprehension of
a suspect(s). The problem is, and always has been,
for what reasons should  information be withheld,
and who should make the decision to withhold
information?

…minor to spectacular

While there are instances when information will be
legitimately withheld from you, you'll  experience
many instances when you'll be deprived of
information you should have. In the latter instance,
the reason will be simple…who gets the credit? A lot
of people will do just about anything to receive the
credit for something minor to spectacular, and
police are more insatiable in  this regard than most.
Once you experience the information sharing deficit
of your own department, you'll wonder how much
benefit would be gained through improved
interagency  information sharing.

…just being polite

When politicians include local police departments in
their discourse regarding information sharing, for
the most part, they're just being polite. When it
comes to international terrorism, federal  agencies
will always jealously guard their turf. When a federal
agency shares critical information with your
department, it will do so only when it's in need of
your resources, and only when a  threat is
imminent. Even at this juncture, the information will
still be limited based on that agency's assessment
of just how much you need to know.

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