Local law enforcement constitutes a
critical layer in identifying, developing
and tapping tactical criminal
intelligence sources which can be
useful for both domestic and foreign
intelligence enterprises.  Today, for
example, major metropolitan law
enforcement police units can easily
and readily move in and out of local,
national or even international
jurisdictions and domains.
The major limitation in a traditional
criminal justice degree, therefore, is
that the investigative and
prosecutorial process only begins
after a crime has been committed – it
is a post mortem activity that occurs
after the damage has been done.
With every new counterterrorism,
intelligence, and law enforcement
strategy or technique requires
equally dynamic and robust
education and classroom training.
Future of Law Enforcement:
Intelligence & Counterterrorism
By Jeremy Tamsett, MA
In the post-9/11 era, it has become clear
that law enforcement has a major role to
play in homeland security, intelligence,
and counterterrorism operations in the
United States.  The potential for
collaboration between transnational
criminal groups and terrorist networks
pose significant security challenges.  This
is one growing area of concern where law
enforcement and intelligence are
increasing focus and investment.  

The Role of Federal and Local Law
Enforcement and Intelligence

The line between foreign and domestic
intelligence collection is gray and
thinning.  States and municipalities play a
vitally important role in the collection and
analysis of intelligence related to
counterterrorism.  Many large
metropolitan jurisdictions in the
aftermath of 9/11 have established their
own intelligence efforts, optimized for
local conditions and perceived community
needs.    Subsequently, local and state
law enforcement intelligence analysis has
expanded to include both
counterterrorism and assorted threats to
national security: Law enforcement is no
longer confined to merely local activity
The New York City Police Department
(NYPD) is an example of a local, municipal
law enforcement agency that has formed
partnerships with federal law enforcement
and the intelligence community.  Formed
in 2002, NYPD was the Nation’s first
police force to have a separate office
dedicated to the counterterrorism
mission – a model that is slowly but
surely being adopted by other major
metropolitan locations.  

Through the Joint Terrorism Task Force
(JTTF)’s partnership with the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI), NYC police
has access to national level classified
intelligence, which enables the
Department to work with the FBI on
international terrorism investigations.  
But it also enables NYC police within the
Counterterrorism and Intelligence
Divisions to gather, analyze, and
disseminate intelligence through both
open source and classified channels to
city, state, and federal law enforcement
and intelligence agencies.   In addition,
the Department has participated in
international investigations and has police
liaisons in 10 cities around the world.   

The Unique Value that Police Bring to
Counterterrorism and Intelligence

Law enforcement agencies in every city
around the globe are uniquely positioned
to best understand the threat
environment of their local communities.  
The idea here is that knowledge about
aberrant and anomalistic activity in local
population centers does not need to be
created; it already exists on the street.  
Police departments have access to
criminal intelligence data that provides
them with the ability to detect emerging
threats within their jurisdictions.  

Local law enforcement (wherever “local”
may be, ranging from Los Angeles to
New York or Paris to Islamabad) is also in
the position of being able to develop
community awareness, human access,
and technically-enabled collections
against identified or suspected threat
actors or their co-optees.  Police,
therefore, need to interact with not only
national intelligence agencies, but also on
a global scale through cooperation
agreements with international partners in
law enforcement.  

Ultimately, the participation of law
enforcement intelligence activities,
especially in the new strategic security
environment, should be broadly defined
to include both federal and local law
enforcement, as well as international law
enforcement agencies like Interpol and
Europol.   If such models of engagement
and interaction are to be successfully
implemented, police will increasingly need
to acquire skills in global affairs and
undergo language and culture training.  
More research, study and innovation of
emerging models and paradigms for
“global policing”  are needed.  
The Grand Challenge: Proactive vs.
Reactive Strategies

The sophistication and motivation of the
adversary in the context of the nebulous
environments in which they operate lies
at the very heart of the grand challenge
for law enforcement and intelligence as
they seek to move as close and as often
as possible to anticipating an adversary’s
intentions, plans, and actions (early
warning and prevention – a.k.a.
“intelligence”) and away from simply
responding to and recovering from

Terrorism poses a specific challenge for
law enforcement, which has historically
been trained to investigate crimes after
the fact and bring the guilty parties to
justice rather than hunt down terrorists
and prevent surprise attacks.  For
example, most criminal justice programs
teach police officers how to identify
criminals, take them into custody, and all
the while collect information that will
stand up on court and bring a
Certainly legal boundaries play a
significant role in the counterterrorism
and intelligence role of modern law
enforcement agencies; however, even
more emphasis must be placed on
understanding the context in which
potential terrorist activities occur so that
strategic security professionals
(intelligence analysts, protection
specialists, and counterterrorism
operators) are best positioned to detect
and prevent emerging threat before it
becomes a reality.

Accordingly, there are a range of
complexities for law enforcement and
intelligence when it comes to formulation,
development, and implementation of
proactive strategies, ranging from issues
of civil liberties and legal protections that
apply to the practice of religion and right
of assembly, to restrictions on
government intrusion without
justification or legal countenance.  
Learning about these types of issues
requires in-depth education and
classroom training in addition to hands-
on experience.  

New Intelligence and
Counterterrorism Skill-Sets Needed
for Law Enforcement Officers

Law enforcement counterterrorism and
intelligence officers must possess new
skills to effectively combat terrorism in
their local communities.  For example,
police in major metropolitan areas will
increasingly need to acquire skills in
global strategic security affairs and
undergo classroom training to
understand terrorist group dynamics and
terrorist techniques.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s
Counter-Terrorism and Criminal
Intelligence Bureau, for example, recently
told its officers to report incidents
“potentially related to foreign or domestic
terrorism.”    The key here, as well as at
other police departments around the
nation, is to properly equip police officers
with the skills and tools they need to be
successful in their new homeland security
missions related to counterterrorism and

A good first step is to train police how to
recognize and report “heightened
suspicious activity” in their jurisdictions,
but to be truly effective, law enforcement
personnel need to know how to create
taxonomies of support networks (to
include transnational criminals and gangs)
as a means to map linkages for future
attribution and disruption (including,
ideally, prosecution).

Key nodes (including persons with
specialized expertise, information,
materials and equipment, logistics and
finance) and links (by which the highest
priority transfers occur) should be the
subject of appropriate law enforcement
and intelligence attention, action,
exploitation and manipulation.  

Education in this regard must be
targeted to not only describe the benefits
of information sharing but, in a very
practical sense, it must also teach
analysts how to recognize the
information that should be shared and
how to create the organizational culture
and protocols to share information
effectively and appropriately.
Pin-pointing specific loci where shared
interests overlap, like money laundering,
drug trafficking (to raise money), and
other types of financial support networks
are examples where cross-cutting
cleavages may exist between crime and
terrorism.  Linkages between “strategic”
criminal groups (e.g. transnational gangs
like Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13, or
organized crime families like the Sicilian
and Russian mafia) and terrorist groups
in particular present a dynamic challenge
that requires an equally dynamic

Jeremy Tamsett, MA is an Analyst with
the U.S. Department of Defense and
Henley-Putnam University, where he
serves the latter as a researcher, writer,
editor, and subject matter expert on
intelligence and counterterrorism.  Mr.
Tamsett concurrently provides analytic
services on terrorism, port security, and
nuclear and radiological weapons issues
for the Homeland Security Innovation
Association (HLSIA).  Formerly, Mr.
Tamsett was President and Founder of
International Security Solutions
Corporation (ISSC), a consultancy that
provided state and local government
entities with subject matter expertise
related to WMD terrorism.  Mr. Tamsett
has served as a Project Manager and
Terrorism Researcher for the Center for
Terrorism and Intelligence Studies
(CETIS) and was also a Research
Assistant at the Center for
Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey,
CA.  He is co-editor of Jihadists and
Weapons of Mass Destruction, (New
York: CRC Press, 2008), forthcoming.  

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Intelligence &
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
There are Five
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