Community Policing in Response to Terrorism

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Evaluate the use of Community Policing in response to terrorism. What are the positives and negatives of building relationships with the community?

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Community Policing is a rebranded concept created by researchers and criminologists for their projects taken from the old tradition of the cop working a specific patrol area or “beat”. It was called a beat because that is what you did, beat the bricks (walking) while you were on patrol. This was pre-automobiles when most police walked around an assigned area. Back in the day those officers usually lived in the same area they patrolled, I know of a department that had brass caps fastened on their batons so if they needed to summon help from other police or passerby’s they would strike the brass on cast iron street covers, thereby making a distant noise.


Those officers got to know their areas very well and were not rushed from call to call. Fast forward to the industrial age departments began to install call boxes and issue automobiles and motorcycles for patrol, thus increasing the range of officers and the size of cities. This increase began to see policing large urban areas almost become unmanageable. I believe the ratio of police to civilian is horribly low and extremely dangerous to officers, has it causes officers to be over worked and spread thin.

This problem also greatly reduces the availability of back up. Policing is a violent profession; they contrast of different situations is amazing, and the level of danger is ever present, at any moment an officer could be killed or maimed in the line of duty.

This is where knowing who the players are in your beat can be very important. Knowing who is a stickup man who like to carry pistols vs a burglar who keeps a screwdriver on him, or who is a heroin junkie shoplifter that keeps used needles and smack hidden on her person. Also knowing who is on paper, and who is a triple bill can also save your life, believe it or not, people will kill police to avoid going back to prison.

Another reason why it’s important to know your area is knowing when something feels wrong, for example, your on patrol and you roll pass a stop and rob (convenience store or gas station) and you know a certain clerk is usually on duty. As you roll past, you note that someone you ain’t never seen before is behind the counter. That is called a red flag. So, you make the block or flip a U and hit the radio for back up and put a unit behind the back of the building and another goes in with you. Now that can go down a couple of different ways, but that’s not the point either he is a new clerk or he is robbing the joint and took the clerk prisoner or killed him, is there another robber in the back strapped up, or is the owner or manager in the back office with an AK? The point is it is good to know who the players are in your neighborhood because it can go sideways in a split second.

Community policing helps build cases, locate evidence, taking witness statements, get confessions, and in getting good descriptions and getting those same witnesses to ID perps from a six pack (photo lineup) and so on.

This also applies to counter terror operations. Operatives will hide among their own and where they feel they can blend in the most. This is done to prevent discovery before they can execute their mission. Another major factor is their religious and political affiliation. For example several Muslim terror groups will commit suicide in their attacks in order to go to heaven and have 72 virgins, while catholic terror groups will not commit suicide, as it is considered a mortal sin and deny them a place in heaven. Why would this information be considered important? Perhaps it provides the counter terror officers with the information needed to determine what tactics to use while engaging the terrorists. The information may point investigators in the right direction as they are trying to gather intelligence to discover an attack plan, intercept the operatives planning the attack, stop them and break up support networks.

A lot of this is done with the assistance of common citizens who are just going about their business. A small bit of information overheard in a store, a neighborhood child seeing a couple of men unloading a van in a rented garage who were “acting funny” or the classic little old lady with nothing to do all day but stare out her front window.

When conducting counter terror operations, it is important to build trust in that community. Learn the history, drink the tea in a traditional way, have a favorite local dish, and every shop is your favorite for whatever reason. Do know be a push over, or fake in your behavior in anyway, it will do more damage then good. If you are not feeling the assignment request a transfer asap. Also be aware while you are running operations, supporters of the terror organization are also running counterintelligence operations. Listen more then you talk.

“intelligence-led policing is a philosophy of policing that builds on prior

policing strategies and research, such as problem solving and community policing.

It promotes the gathering and analysis of information and intelligence to solve all

types of crime, including terrorism. Homeland security policing, on the other hand,

is a strategy of policing that focuses specifically on the prevention and response to

terrorism. Future research is needed to determine how these two strategies will be

implemented in the post-9/11 era.” (Chappell2009)


Remember that people will lie to you, do not get made use the it to your advantage. And secondly, there are small lies and big lies, learn the difference. I believe that intelligence-based policing is equally important as community policing has, they are two different tools which can be used to get the combined job of providing homeland security and keeping lines of communication open.

Grabosky, P. (2008, September). Community policing in an age of terrorism. Retrieved from

Chappell, A., & Gibson, S. (2009, March 12). Community Policing and Homeland Security Policing: Friend or Foe? Retrieved from

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