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The Role of Private Security in Combating Terrorism


Presentation Given by Charles P. Connolly
at the Major Cities Chiefs/National Executive Institute's Annual Conference
Sun Valley, Idaho

June 2003

The World Trade Center attack on 9/11 not only changed the way we think but from an organizational perspective how we are to function in the future. It may also be time to redefine ownership of our national security. Law Enforcement, in my judgment, will at some point transform itself to meet the terrorist threat in ways that are not yet on our respective police screens, regarding training, surveillance, investigative techniques, disaster prevention and response. And most importantly developing collaborative relationships.

Today's presentation is not an end product but a challenge to examine and change, if necessary, a mindset to allow the Public and Private Protection sector to accomplish its mission through recognition of the merits of shared assistance and cooperation. Quite frankly all disasters are essentially local. There is no such thing as a Homeland Department or FBI disaster; there are only a New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago or even a De Moines disaster. Yes its impact matters and relates to the larger community. But if we are to be successful in developing a more productive anti-terrorist environment both sectors need to change their client culture from one of mere security awareness or knowledge to that of security ownership and responsibility. Today, security is everyone's responsibility!

Essentially, in today's climate the stakes are too high economically and in personal safety to ignore the potential contribution of the private sector to the security of the nation. Historically there were a number of reasons, valid at least in the past, as to why partnership was not possible. The issue of quality in private security and trust in government are two that come to mind. Hopefully the other speakers will touch on that issue. But today, the protection professional must recognize we can't pick the environment in which we live nor the circumstances under which we operate.

Therefore we must not attempt to solve a problem with the same mindset that creates it. Having been a long-term advocate on the potential for this public/private partnership, I found it difficult to understand why many Police Chiefs did not want to recruit another army that he or she

  • Didn't have to pay for.
  • Didn't have to be responsible for its operational success or failure.
  • Would receive the Lion's share of credit for whatever joint success is achieved.
  • And more importantly, Would provide greater access and opportunity for a very lucrative second career.

And if you still have concerns, REMEMBER, the police chief is always in control as he or she is the only governmental constitutionally empowered authority in town.

In combating terrorism why is the role of the private security sector so important? Given that today's battlefront is on America's homeland the police are the front line troops in this war. However, they are not alone in this effort as Security assumes a greater role in safety, prevention and preventing the misuse of proprietary assets. In fact, security is often at the scene when the police arrive. Yet, neither is prepared nor trained or equipped to combat an invisible enemy whose stated objective is disruption, destruction and mass death.

Although the State Department lists over fifty identifiable terrorist groups who are capable of providing cooperation to each other, Al Qaeda is different! Terror was often a tool to win a place at the bargaining table. Al Qaeda appears to just want to blow up the table. To paraphrase it's our way of life " STUPID".

It would appear to today's fanatic that everything is black or white, curse or blessing, friend or foe. He or she increasingly perceive tolerance for weakness and are apt to remind us that they are much more enthusiastic on dying than we are on living.

What may be happening now may prove more important and dangerous than Bin Laden or Al Qaeda. The real issue, in my judgment, is a growing ideology rather than organizational intent. We are witnessing an awakening in which Al Qaeda inspires a movement encouraging other fanatics to recruit among the larger Muslim community.

Fundamentalism in the Islamic world is something we know little about. But it is a world in which 1/2 of its population is probably under twenty-five years of age. And for some it appears that you can't talk them out of their obsession. There are those among us who honestly believe our grandchildren might witness the fruits of any victory. 9/11 has shown us that we can't ignore this threat of radical Islam as they

  • Do not practice self-restraint.
  • Wish to inflict mass civilian casualties.
  • Live among us.

The Department of Justice reports that there are in the USA some 314,000 ABSCONDERS, People ordered to be deported and can't be found. You may recall at last year's conference, then Assistant Dir. of FBI, Dale Watson reported that the prior 30-month period 93 million visas were issued.

It is entirely logical that our anti-terrorist response must adjust and adapt to these ideologies but also possible that the twenty first-century challenge is to find appropriate counter-measures that will allow us to live with such constant threats. The old US tactic was " wait and respond". The new wisdom appears to be that we take the battle to them.

Self-Defense, however, is no less important regardless of our international strategy 9/11 will affect the conduct of Corporate America more than any prior threat. Why? 9/11 is the gold standard for terrorist success. It also encourages "copycats". The technology formerly controlled by the few is now available to the many. Also that technology is reaching the stage where one can program a project to be operated by the less skilled.

Myself and others would like to see the NEI play a greater role as the threats domestically will be concentrated in jurisdictions under the responsibility of the Major Cities Chiefs and active NEI members. My experience indicates the call for Partnership is not a new gospel! Yes, the call for Partnership has been followed up by genuine interest on the part of some police officials while other attitudes ranged from lukewarm to lip service. In some departments there were simply no interest. I suggest that attitudes will change or some careers will! Allow me to offer an explanation for such a belief.

A protection transformation is on the horizon, as society's safety is, in fact, no longer viewed simply as the exclusive role of government. One can make the argument as to whether government is the primary provider of protection given the research that a host of non-governmental groups have assumed responsibility for their own protection. The restructuring or shifting of public protection can be witnessed by the fact:

1) Private policing outnumbers public policing. In this country the ratio is listed as three to one.

2) People increasingly spend more of their daily life in places where visible crime prevention and control are provided by the private sector, i.e. workplace, transportation, recreational, educational and at home such as gated communities and large residential complexes.

3) The reengineering of the police function is transforming itself as a result of community demand and input, economic restraints and constant and unrelenting often unfair, criticism exaggerated by the political process and the media.

If you cannot accept this future of protection, let me offer another level of concern to the Police Chief of the future in fulfilling his protective responsibility to society as well as the economic well being of this country.

With 85 % of the Nation's infrastructure owned and operated by the private sector the United States increasingly relies on American companies to safeguard the nation's economy, security and well being.

A sustainable partnership between the Public and Private sector is imperative if we are to protect the essential elements of our economy and way of life, in agriculture and food production and distribution, water, communication, energy, health & drug services, telecommunications, Transportation, Banking and financial services, chemical and hazardous materials, commercial and sports centers.
The list is endless!

America's private sector - businesses, universities and labor have long been a partner to government supplying the tools and technologies to support national security. Unfortunately, this first war of the twenty-first century puts America's businesses and employees on the front lines of the battlefield - targets and pathways for attack and destruction. There will be no personal safety or economic vitality without a secure environment. That is the challenge for Private Security as well as the Law Enforcement community. Equally important is the transformation of Law Enforcement to lead in rethinking a systematic collaborative security response that will adapt to the world's new realities.

Domestically we must further explore what partnership potential exists. What role does or can police leadership play in recognizing, recruiting and developing Police/Private security initiatives.

If this notion has value then the NEI is in the perfect position to identify that value, and ask why is it not being initiated on a much larger scale? And if today's presenters are on message what are the obstacles to successful implementation and where are the opportunities to resolve them.

The Role of Private Security and why is it so important? Obviously, the fact that private security protects 85 per cent of the nation's infrastructure is a compelling fact in rethinking the nation's security response. Aside from the domestic war on terrorism, it's important that we recognize what is occurring on the international side. Despite the most recent world tension and Wall Street scandals, National Governance, the role of nation states is falling behind on the world scene. Global Corporations are increasingly taken the place of influence. World and domestic events should give us pause to reflect that we may not be able to address today's needs much less tomorrow's with yesterday's answers. While some economic and terrorism concerns have tempered the triumph of Globalism there has been an interesting transformation in world influence and power. Several years ago it was reported that General Motors had a bigger budget than Denmark, Toyota had surpassed Norway and Wal-Mart's budget exceeded that of Poland. In the same context Ford exceeded South Africa while Mitsubishi and Unilever together outsized Indonesia (believed to be the 4th largest country) and Vietnam. Actually the hundred biggest economies in the world are equally divided between Corporations and Government. Surely, it can be said that Big Business "has a dog in this fight" against terrorism. While this transformation has met a few bumps in the road, a major challenge according to the International Monetary Fund is a world that is moving from a Public Sector Dominance towards one of Private Enterprise. Ironically, Bill Gates of Microsoft gave away more money last year to underdeveloped countries than the World Health Fund. If government and business need to adapt to the world's new realities, surely the Public and Private Protection Sectors should not be too far behind!

Our best statistics suggest some 700,000-law enforcement officers are manning our nation's battlefront. Nationally they are supported by approximately 12,000 FBI personnel and a number of other federal agencies, e.g. the Secret Service, DEA, etc., probably half the FBI's size.

Yes, we have a sizable Customs and Border Patrol force. But they are attempting to secure some seven and a half thousand (7,500) miles of border between Canada and Mexico covering some 160 points of entry. At those points of entry they are checking 50,000 trucks and another 50,000 sealed port containers, the latter having only a two- (2) per cent inspection rate. While this is occurring some 2,660 aircraft, 520 vessels, 348,000 vehicle and one million and three hundred thousand persons are crossing the border. By the way did I mention that everything I just described moves across the border EACH DAY. America also is responsible for a large segment of the flying public involving some 39,000 US commercial flights. These airports do not include the 18,000 privately operated airports within our country. The vastness of our country is such that we can never fully protect it try as we might.

If Absolute Guarantees can't be the core of our national defense shouldn't we strive to ensure that our Intelligence capacity be equal or better than our First Response capability. Surely we would agree that it is better to prevent a catastrophe than effectively respond to its aftermath. Therefore, if prevention through Intelligence is a goal why not explore the intelligence contributions of America's most successful corporations.

To repeat myself, there are a number of legitimate, possible legal and long-term historical concerns involving cooperation with the government. Yet there is a compelling rationale for exploring to the utmost private security's participation in the war against terrorism. The Private Sector has the technology, the resources and I suspect the analytical intelligence to be a major contributor to the security of the nation. The issue, in my opinion, is how do we harness it.

I believe you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would deny that Transnational Crime and Terrorism undermines the very foundations of international democratic order. Transnational crime corrupts political leaders while successful terrorism undermines the cause of human rights. With this in mind we need to be aware that sophisticated illegal operations and enterprises have increased greatly since the Berlin Wall came down. Many countries, similar to the Internet are without secure controlled borders. As such the nature, scope and function of Public Protection, International, Federal and Domestic suggest a transformation given its traditional perspective is one of reaction and rarely proactive. The call for action is often predicated on the existence of "Critical Mass" prior to unmasking organized criminal activity. This is not meant as a criticism just merely reflects a function of governmental monitoring. Terrorists and Organized Criminals are not adversely affected by jurisdictional boundaries. Law Enforcement, unfortunately, is so affected. Accompanying political change has been the rapid advance in technology, communication and transportation creating a universal "global village" and "Information Highway".

Someone needs to explore who will police this Village and this elusive highway. It is an important question given the projected decline of national governance and that the Internet provides us the possibility of having the equivalent of a printing press in our home. Its use can be for good or bad. Obviously we are not about to solve today's, nor tomorrow's problems with yesterday's solutions.

Today, I would like to leave you with a few questions that I believe will need to be addressed in combating both terrorism and global crime.

  • What changes can be forecast for the future regarding the transnational nature of global crime and terrorism. Who best can make such forecasts?
  • Are there changes occurring now in countries that many law enforcement communities are ill equipped to handle?
  • If so, What extensions, new roles, or partnerships will be required among security, law enforcement and prosecution.
  • Who will be able to analyze, interpret, prevent, investigate and secure successful prosecutions internationally and domestic. What kind of borderless paper trails will exist given the reliance on electronic impulses.
  • Given fiscal trends, can the world criminal justice system afford to train personnel to function in the new world of globalism, instantaneous crime and terror.
  • Where are the "expert witnesses" going to come from if we are to successfully investigate and assist in the prosecution of transnational crimes involving sophisticated telecommunications or computerized networks.
  • In the future will we or can we consider the use of Corporate experts during the investigative and prosecution phrases. It has been my observation that law enforcement personnel upon achieving a certain technical proficiency tend towards the private sector given the financial benefits. Our best technical skills group may not be government employees.
  • What legislation, domestic and international, treaties included, might be necessary in combating both global crime and terrorism.

The war on terrorism will not likely be won solely in the traditional military fashion. According to some "experts" it has the potential for a long duration and the new weapons of choice may require methods of collaborative intelligence and process in addition to any new technology we may acquire.

Again, it is important to stress that it can only be Law Enforcement Leadership that can replace our culture of independence with that of interdependence. However, it is important that we define the term "partnership" more clearly. It's not simply a Law Enforcement commitment to communicate in a more timely and relevant mode. That is merely a promise to create a better communications network. It has to be more than a one way street even though we fully recognize that the police function and authority is the essential controlling player.

Today's message hopefully is a request to do something different or creative amidst a world of information and technology that continually transforms and alters the way we conduct our business and go about our daily lives. Undoubtedly, we are more conscious of our limitations in protecting our people and assets. Technology in nanoseconds moves and challenges its boundaries. Unfortunately, people evolve more slowly in challenging their boundaries, both mentally and operationally. Are we prepared to respond to things differently as well as situations that have yet to occur. Is failure a result of not solving the problem or simply because we can't see the problem. Prophets of doom and gloom need not define the future. Our future may be merely different in handling crisis. In the past we have handled plagues, world wars, holocaust, the evils of Hitler and Communism and countless other evils as well. Our ability to deal with the unknown is not in question. I suggest it is our creativity, commitment and will that needs to be energized. Today's speakers, I trust, can help in challenging old boundaries and setting new frontiers of partnership for Public and Private Protection.