…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

…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  

…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

…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

…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

…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.
"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

…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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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
Today's police officers are
afforded the best ballistic
protection in history... and
it only gets better.
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
Police Exam Self Help
by Sergeant George
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Sergeant Godoy
served for 5 years as a police
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personally tested over 1,000
potential police recruits.
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Accurate crime reporting is
so important on so many
levels.  It all begins with
you and your preliminary
police report.
As a police officer, you'll
be writing something
everyday of your police
career.  Everything you put
to writing, no matter how
seemingly inconsequential,
will be important.
While television police
shows and movies are not
normally the best examples
for you to apply to your
police career, they do
sometimes offer some
valuable insights.
The good news is...the
odds of you having to  use
deadly force is low.  The
bad news is...you will be
faced with that decision.