Terrorism Prevention Requires Police–Community Collaboration

September 22, 2016 Updated: September 23, 2016

The recent terror attacks in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota are a chilling reminder to America of the contemptuous realities that some are referring to as “the new normal.”

After three attacks in just 12 hours, with explosions in New York City and New Jersey communities, and a bloody stabbing rampage in a Minnesota mall, America was under siege.

These incidents occurred in the shadows of the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, once again demanding our courage, resolve, and perseverance.

The Terror Attacks: A Recap

Seaside Park, N.J.—Around 9:30 am, one of three wired together pipe-bomb-type devices explodes in a garbage bin. Although the detonation was nefariously planted to wreck devastation at a U.S. Marine Corps charity run, no one was injured since a registration technicality delayed the race. This chilling intention was likely influenced by the Boston Marathon attack.

Chelsea, New York City—An explosion from a device planted in or near a dumpster injured 29 people in the normally idyllic Manhattan neighborhood. Law enforcement found an intact pressure cooker blocks away from this 23rd Street and 6th Avenue location, and said this device and the exploded one were similar. Cell phones were programed as the apparent timers.

St. Cloud, Minnesota—A man garbed in a security uniform, stabbed nine people at the Crossroads Mall, before an off-duty police officer shot him dead.

People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall as officials investigate a reported multiple stabbing incident in St. Cloud, Minn., on Sept. 17, 2016. (Dave Schwarz/St. Cloud Times via AP)
People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall as officials investigate a reported multiple stabbing incident in St. Cloud, Minn., on Sept. 17, 2016. (Dave Schwarz/St. Cloud Times via AP)

Police-Community Unity Limited Attacks

Minnesota—Officer Jason Falconer heroically prevented additional carnage after fatally shooting the individual who stabbed nine people at the Minnesota Mall. He was the right man at the right time who protected his community as an ethical guardian of society.

New York / New Jersey—The terrorism mantra, “If you see something, say something,” became a reality that led to the arrest of the suspect in the Sept. 17 bombings in New York and New Jersey. Harinder Bains, owner of a tavern in Linden, New Jersey, noticed a man sleeping in the doorway of his establishment.

Since Bains recognized the suspect due to extensive media coverage, he called the police which led to the suspect arrest.

Bains humbly expressed his appreciation for law enforcement, the importance of taking action, and respect for the ethical values of every faith. He personifies the positive results of collaboration between the community, police, and the media as well as the virtue of someone who honored his faith.

“I did what I think every American would have done,” Bains said. “My neighbor would have done the same thing. Any Jewish, Christian, Sikh, Muslim. We would be more stronger if we do everything together… I’m from Sikh faith,” he added. “I’ve been taught always stand up against the atrocities, any kind of persecution.”

“Anybody would have done the same thing… Cops are the real hero, law enforcement is the real hero… when you see something, say something.”

Law enforcement certainly deserves our most profound appreciation for apprehending the bombing suspect, after a dangerous gunfight with two officers injured, in just under four hours after he was publicly identified.

FBI Director’s Remarks on Unity

Prior to these attacks, a foreshadowing audio by FBI Director James Comey was posted on the Bureau’s website.

Although unaware of any plans of the aforementioned attacks, Comey emphasized the agencies strategy to combating the evolving terror threat.

The Director’s words are a reminder of the challenges of terrorism, and the critical nature of collaboration:

“Our focus now is on a much more desperate threat that’s hard to see, unpredictable, motivated, and driven by people who are just disturbed. Although we have different responsibilities, different authorities, different focuses to be effective, the circles have to not just touch, they have to overlap.”

As someone privileged to meet Director Comey, and attend his presentations, I am confident that his concept of different responsibilities needed to prevent terrorism, refers not only on interagency law enforcement unity, but an iron-clad collaboration between police and the community.

Tips for Preventing Terrorism

Based on these recent attacks, and the eventuality of additional incidents, these tips from the FBI are worth reviewing:

Surveillance: Are you aware of anyone video recording or monitoring activities, taking notes, using cameras, maps, binoculars, and so on, near key facilities/events?

Suspicious Questioning: Are you aware of anyone attempting to gain information in person, by phone, mail, email, etc., regarding a key facility or people who work there?

Tests of Security: Are you aware of any attempts to penetrate or test physical security or procedures at a key facility/event?

Acquiring Supplies: Are you aware of anyone attempting to improperly acquire explosives, weapons, ammunition, dangerous chemicals, uniforms, badges, flight manuals, access cards or identification for a key facility/event or to legally obtain items under suspicious circumstances that could be used in a terrorist attack?

Suspicious Persons: Are you aware of anyone who does not appear to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or near a key facility/event?

“Dry Runs”: Have you observed any behavior that appears to be preparation for a terrorist act, such as mapping out routes, playing out scenarios with other people, monitoring key facilities/events, timing traffic lights or traffic flow, or other suspicious activities?

Deploying Assets: Have you observed abandoned vehicles, stockpiling of suspicious materials, or persons being deployed near a key facility/event?

If you answered yes to any of the above … if you have observed any suspicious activity that may relate to terrorism, please contact the Joint Terrorist Task Force or law enforcement/counterterrorism agency closest to you immediately. Your tip could save the lives of innocent people, just like you and yours.

Complementing these FBI tips, I strongly recommend security countermeasures noted in my article titled “Mass Shootings: America’s Public Health Crisis,” for the Dec. 10, 2015 edition of the Epoch Times.

Final Reflections

Despite recent controversies of police-community relations, citizen support and the commendable swift response of law enforcement is worthy of admiration. Unity of effort is critical to safeguarding our communities and nation is clear and must continue.

As detailed in my published work titled “Terrorism Demands Police-Community Unity” for the July 28, 2016 edition of the Epoch Times, terrorism is a reality of our times. America must enhance its leadership, vigilance, and collaboration to protect our homeland.

Terrorism incidents are accelerating throughout the nation, and the next attack can take place anywhere, anytime, and by any means.

America will be on the path to reawakening the nation when our police-community unity is fortified, as to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

Vincent J. Bove
Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen To Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.