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Local Response to Terrorism Research Paper

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Updated: Apr 8th, 2022


Law enforcement agencies believe that national security can be enhanced if the police are empowered to respond to terrorism at the local level. This can be achieved through strategies such as mutual aid agreements, regionalization, and multi-jurisdictional training. Local response to terrorism requires adequate investment in skill development and use of advanced security equipment. As a result, implementing it is likely to have negative effects on the financial stability of local governments/ states. The strategy will also require social changes such as a shift from individualism to collectivism among citizens to enhance community policing. Specifically, community policing is expected to enable police officers to detect and avert imminent terrorist attacks in time.


Terrorism is one of the major threats to national and regional security in various parts of the world. Law enforcement officers and citizens believe that the fight against terrorism can only be won through collaboration among various stakeholders. In addition, terrorism can be prevented through the use of effective local response strategies. This paper will discuss the implications of local response to terrorism. The discussion will highlight the economic, social, and legal implications of the strategy. In addition, the role of Saint Leo University’s core value of community in the process of responding to terrorism will be discussed.

Implications of Local Response

Local response to terrorism involves using the resources and the law enforcement officers at the state and county level to detect and prevent acts of terror. The application of this approach is based on the premise that the war against terrorism can be won if security services are devolved to the local communities. Specifically, the strategy facilitates rapid and timely detection and prevention of terrorism. This involves “collecting, analyzing, and sharing critical information and intelligence at the local level” (Barak, 2009, p. 53). It also involves protecting vital infrastructure at the local level.

The implications of preventing terrorism at the local level include the following. First, the approach requires a significant investment in security equipment to enable local police to prevent acts of terror (Maniscalco & Christen, 2010). The local police must have advanced communication equipment to facilitate investigation into acts of terror. Moreover, they have to undergo specialized training in order to deal with terrorism effectively.

Thus, local governments/ states are likely to face financial constraints as they deal with terrorism. For example, some states or counties might not have adequate funds to hire enough police. If more financial resources are allocated to fighting terrorism, there will be reduced investment in projects that promote economic activities at the local level. Besides, local/ state governments are likely to report budget deficits if they fail to receive adequate support from the federal government. Nonetheless, dealing with terrorism at the local level is expected to improve security, which in turn will boost economic activities in every state and county (Todd & Enders, 2009). Specifically, businesses are likely to increase their investments as security risks reduce, thereby promoting economic growth.

Second, local response to terrorism requires collaboration between the police and citizens. The rationale of this requirement is that most terrorists live with citizens in various communities. Thus, responsible citizens can help the local police to identify suspected terrorists. The social implication of this collaboration is that citizens must be educated on how to identify terrorists in their communities without fear (Siegel, 2011). In addition, citizens must be empowered to monitor their neighborhoods actively to detect any security threat. As a result, the local police will be able to get accurate first hand information that will enable them to trace and arrest terrorists.

Citizens must also change their behaviour and patterns of interaction by focusing on collectivism rather than individualism. In this case, collectivism will enable the police to share the responsibility of preventing terrorism with citizens. Changing the perception and attitudes of communities towards the police is also important in the fight against terrorism at the local level. For instance, in ethnic minority communities that are characterized by high levels crime, the police are often considered a threat to freedom. In this context, the community members can only collaborate with the local police to respond to terrorism if they change their attitudes. This means that trust and transparency are major social factors that the local police will require to respond effectively to terrorism.

Finally, amending state laws on security will be necessary to enable the police to enhance security at the local level without infringing the rights of innocent citizens. Various states must have laws that allow their police to search private properties to collect information that might lead to the arrest of terrorists (Heather & Murphy, 2008). In this case, states that currently discourage search and seizure in private property by local police will have to adopt new laws to fight terrorism. However, any law enacted to facilitate effective response to acts of terror should avoid infringing citizens’ constitutional rights.

The Role of Saint Leo University’s Value of Community

Saint Leo University’s value of community promotes “a spirit of belonging, unity, and interdependence based on mutual trust and respect to create socially responsible environments that challenge all of us to listen, learn, change, and serve” (Saint Leo University, 2014). This value promotes cooperation among community members to facilitate achievement of a common goal such as fighting terrorism. In particular, the value relates to the various methods of fighting terrorism in the following ways.

Mutual Aid Agreements

A mutual aid agreement is a strategy for sharing the scarce resources that are available at the local level to ensure effective response to terrorism. In this case, local governments/ states form partnerships among themselves to share resources such as law enforcement officers and communication equipment (Barak, 2009). The sense of community is central to the success of mutual aid agreements because it promotes interdependencies that are based on mutual trust. In particular, the police from different jurisdictions must have mutual trust in order to support each other in the event of a terrorist attack. In addition, the spirit of community promotes social responsibility by encouraging individuals to serve others.

Thus, local police have to prioritize the security needs of the communities that are most vulnerable to terrorism rather than serving only the residents of their jurisdictions. As a result, rural communities that often have low populations will have adequate police, equipment, and funds to respond to terrorism.


Regionalization is a strategy where the government and police implement crime prevention initiatives at the regional level. This strategy is considered more practical and efficient because it facilitates organization of communities into manageable units to ease provision of security services. However, local response to terrorism through regionalization is likely to pose serious challenges if states and counties fail to cooperate (Maniscalco & Christen, 2010).

For instance, states that feel that each county should be in charge of its local security are less likely to support joint efforts to fight terrorism. However, incorporating community as a value in the process of providing security services will enhance the success of regionalization efforts. In particular, the spirit of community will encourage the police from different jurisdictions to create a common governance structure to coordinate their response to terrorism. This will improve the process of setting common goals and making decisions that help the police to respond to terrorism effectively.

Cross-discipline and Multi-jurisdictional Training or Exercises

Listening, learning, and creating change are key elements of Saint Leo University’s value of community. The three elements justify the use of cross-discipline and multi-jurisdictional training or exercises to respond to terrorism. Police officers from different jurisdictions can only integrate their efforts to fight terrorism if they have standardized plans, protocols, and equipment (Heather & Murphy, 2008). Standardization can be achieved through joint training programs that help police officers to acquire improved skills to deal with terrorism. In addition, multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional training will enable police officers from different communities to have a common understanding of the procedures that have to be used to respond to terrorist attacks.

Interoperable Communication

A collaborative local response to terrorism requires effective intergovernmental communication between security agencies and police officers (Siegel, 2011). This helps in coordinating response activities and sharing the information required to prevent terrorism. The spirit of community promotes interoperability by allowing law enforcement officers to eliminate the barriers to inter-jurisdictional communication. Specifically, police officers who are guided by the sense of community will focus on enhancing the compatibility of their communication equipment and designing protocols that facilitate sharing of information. As a result, local police will be able to work effectively with their colleagues from different jurisdictions to respond to terrorism.

Summary of Findings

Adopting a local strategy to respond to terrorism is likely to be effective because it will enable the government to devolve security services to the communities where they are most needed. The main economic implication of the strategy is that various states/ counties will be required to mobilize huge amounts of financial resources to empower their police officers to respond to terrorism. This can lead to financial constraints in various counties and states. Socially, citizens will be required to collaborate with the police to fight terrorism. Thus, citizens have to be empowered to engage in community policing. In addition, effective statutes have to be enacted to allow local police to fight terrorism without infringing the rights of citizens.

Community as a value is required to improve the effectiveness of mutual aid agreements, regionalization, multijurisdictional training, and interoperable communication. These strategies require effective cooperation among local police and security agencies to respond to terrorism. The desired cooperation can only be achieved if the law enforcement officers are guided by the spirit of community.


Local response to terrorism will improve national security by enabling law enforcement officers to secure all parts of the country. The strategy involves equipping the local police with the right skills and equipment to fight terrorism. In addition, the strategy promotes the use of collaborative strategies such as mutual aid agreements, regionalization, and multijurisdictional training to enhance security. These strategies are likely to succeed if their implementation is guided by Saint Leo University’s value of community.


Barak, G. (2009). Criminology: An integrated approach. New York, NY: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers.

Heather, D., & Murphy, G. (2008). Protecting your community from terrorism: The strategies for local law enforcement series. Washington, DC: COPS.

Maniscalco, P., & Christen, H. (2010). Homeland security: principles and practice of terrorism response. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Barlett Publishers.

Saint Leo University. (2014). Mission and values. Web.

Siegel, L. (2011). Criminology. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Todd, S., & Enders, W. (2009). Economic consequences of terrorism in developed and developing countries: An overview. Montgomery, AL: University of Alabama.

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