TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

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TRIALS BY FIRE - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Local Government AgenciesState and local governments serve significant support functions by detectingand reporting suspicious activity, as well as acting as first responders to an attack.Some localities, however, are playing a greater role in the core domesticcounterterrorism mission.NYPD/LAPD Counterterrorism BureausSince 9/11, major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have establishedcounterterrorism operations independent of the federal government. NYPD’sCounterterrorism Bureau (CTB) is funded by the City of New York, and nearly1,000 NYPD officers are dedicated to its counterterrorism mission. 291In 2004, NYPD CTB was responsible for disrupting the so-called HeraldSquare plot, 292 in which two local extremists planned to bomb the HeraldSquare subway station in midtown Manhattan. NYPD arrested the suspectswith the help of a confidential informant cultivated by its Intelligence Division.Though some have criticized NYPD for exaggerating the threat posedby the plot, it could not have been disrupted at such an early stage without theNYPD’s investigative efforts. 293In New York and elsewhere, local counterterrorism units cooperate closelywith federal authorities. Counterterrorism units refer information about potentialterrorist threats—often via Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs)—totheir local JTTFs for follow up. Over an 18-month period in 2008-2009, forexample, of the 2,063 SARs that were generated in Los Angeles, 151 were acceptedby a JTTF for follow up and 47 arrests were made as a result. (It shouldbe noted, however, that not all arrests were for terrorism-related crimes.) 294Counterterrorism unit officers are also frequently assigned to work directlywith JTTFs. In New York, for example, over 100 NYPD Detectives are assignedto the local JTTF. 295 This is by far the largest commitment of policepersonnel to a JTTF, however, and most other cities assign only a few officersto their task forces. 296Relations between federal and state law enforcement can become strained,however, at times. 297 For example, the FBI and NYPD have repeatedly clashedBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Harvard Kennedy School107

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