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Prevention of terrorism is one of the primary tasks for the state security forces. For this purpose, identification and rapid management of terrorism-related situations are essential. Therefore, as a Terrorism Liaison Officer (TLO), it is one’s duty to report about the current situation in target areas to ensure that the lives of citizens are safeguarded. In the selected setting of Philadelphia, the general environment appears to be in control, yet further measures may need to be undertaken to prevent the instances of protests from reaching a state of havoc.
City Description and Key Problems
Overall, Philadelphia has been quite safe for its citizens due to the generally liberal political strategy of the local officials and well-developed state regulations, as well as a high level of compliance with laws. However, despite having been comparatively detached from massive political movements up until recently, Philadelphia currently contains a significant range of threats to the well-being and even lives of its citizens. Although the protests against police brutality that started as a way of honoring the tragic death of George Floyd and condemning police violence were rather peaceful at first, they quickly span out of control (“Philadelphia protesters sue city over tear gas, use of force,” 2020). Since the protests started in June, their scale and extent have been reduced significantly since then, with now only a minor range of activists demanding to address the issue of police violence publicly. Nevertheless, the current political situation in Philadelphia appears to be quite tense.
In addition, despite having had the reputation of a rather politically ambivalent environment, Philadelphia has been known for rather high rates of crime, involving mass shootings and terrorist attacks. Overall, the present capabilities of the intelligence community within the target environment can be described as medium-range (U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement, 2020). Although Philadelphia has a fairly impressive intelligence system, its efforts have recently been dispersed significantly to observe and manage the situation regarding protests against police brutality. Therefore, there is a significant potential for threats to the safety of citizens.
Three Major Problems
Currently, there are three main issues with the presence of terrorism-related situations in Philadelphia that will require further support from the IC. The continuous protests represent the most tangible and probable one. Indeed, social tensions have risen exponentially since the beginning of protests. Even though the initial wave of emotions seems to have died down, many people still show signs of aggression and the readiness to participate in violent acts (“Philadelphia protesters sue city over tear gas, use of force,” 2020). Therefore, the current protests need to be regarded as the main source of possible acts of terror.
Moreover, the issue with drug peddling can be seen as the potential source of an act of terror caused by criminals escaping justice. Due to the recent actions aimed at eradicating drug peddling in Philadelphia, a vast range of people have been facing drug arrests and relevant charges (U.S. Department of Justice, 2020). Since a number of the people are accused of drug peddling and related activities, the range of the accused, as well as those who have not been identified yet, may resort to acts of terror as a means of escaping justice. Therefore, the specified issue is to be controlled as the possible source of violence and terrorism.
Finally, one must mention the devastating effects that the threat to people’s health due to coronavirus has produced on the residents of Philadelphia. Although the lockdown restrictions have been lifted partially, the city remains under substantial pressure due to the continuous threat. The described situation may lead to disruptions in residents’ mental well-being, thus causing more riots and creating breeding grounds for terrorist attacks. In turn, three minor issues that will not demand the support of IC include possible lack of resources, information management issues, and the need to develop a better infrastructure for accessing areas that contain potential threats. It is believed that to handle the three problems mentioned first, one will need further information about the current trends in civil activism in Philadelphia. Thus, one will realize the further direction that the protests will take, as well as the areas that may become the venues of terrorist attacks.
Information Access Limitations and Security Control
Gaining data that allows evaluating the current situation, determining the issues that may require an immediate focus on the future, and forecasting the further developments in the existing situation imply that accurate information needs to be delivered regularly and processed meticulously. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain the process of observation, supervision, and surveillance constantly and consistently. The data required for the management of the existing threats and the provision of safety of all citizens will be divided into several categories, including statistical information about the data such as population density in public areas, particularly, those that may become the venue of a terrorist attack. The specified details will inform the strategies to be made to spot likely threats to the safety of citizens and address them accordingly.
Capabilities of the IC and the Focus on the Cold War
The current situation with the persecution of terrorist groups and the prevention of terrorist acts in Philadelphia has been moderately good so far. However, the marginal success of the local IC may falter as the protests continue and the actions of militant groups become more aggressive. Presently, the capabilities of the IC are restricted due to the limitations caused by the epidemics, as well as the necessity to supervise the situation with the protests constantly (U.S. Department of Justice, 2020). Particularly, due to the multiple areas that the intelligence has to embrace at once, a larger number of devices for exerting control over public places is needed. However, the Philadelphian intelligence forces currently lack appropriate devices, which reduces the scope of their actions and the range of their efficiency (U.S. Department of Justice, 2020). Moreover, the necessity to screen the changes in public attitudes toward the problem, including the changes in the emotional state and behaviors of protesters, creates multiple obstacles to the Philadelphian intelligence.
The observed situation can be compared to the environment witnessed during the Cold War. Namely, the necessity to be constantly on guard and respond to the slightest sign of a threat of risk immediately contributed to the emotional exhaustion of both civilians and law enforcement (Walsh, 2017). As a result, the environment that the Cold War created had a sense of paranoia around it, resembling the current situation with the need to be constantly on guard to ensure that one does not find oneself amidst a violent protest (Walsh, 2017). Nonetheless, by enhancing control over the city and the surveillance over public places, law enforcement and intelligence will be able to model the situation and forecast its further development. As a result, the main threats to people’s lives and well-being will be removed successfully.
Philadelphia protesters sue city over tear gas, use of force. (2020). Al Jazeera. Web.
U.S. Department of Justice. (2020). Eleven more defendants indicted for $4.1 million meth conspiracy. Web.
U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement. (2020). Pennsylvania State Police, ICE HSI Philadelphia arrest man on child exploitation charges. Web.
Walsh, P. F. (2017). Making future leaders in the US intelligence community: challenges and opportunities. Intelligence and National Security, 32(4), 441-459.