Guest Commentary by Leroy Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff
A regional response to terrorism
By: Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy D. Baca
Sheriff Baca offers Los Angeles' best practices as examples of ways regional law enforcement units can help fight the war against terrorism.
On September 11, 2001, our country suffered an unprecedented terrorist attack by extremists who consider themselves at war with the United States and the ideals which it represents. This cowardly act of horrific proportions has left its mark on our country forever. In response to this evil scourge, a new resolve shared by all Americans has been born, as well as a unity of purpose unrivaled in recent history.
There is no doubt that we have entered a time in law enforcement that will require more diligence, interagency teamwork, and vigilance than ever before. It is essential that we do what is necessary to deal with safety issues that might affect us regionally and on a global scale, including those issues connected with terrorist threats and hate crimes.
The challenges imposed by the attacks of September 11, 2001, have strengthened the commitment of those of us who serve in the public safety profession to implement safeguards in protecting our communities from acts of terrorism and hate. Some of the safeguards in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department implemented in response to the attacks on 9-11 are as follows:
TERRORISM EARLY WARNING GROUP
We established the Terrorism Early Warning (TEW) Group in 1996 as an interdisciplinary group in which local, state, and federal agencies work together to share information and combine resources, and to enhance our ability to identify and respond to acts and threats of terrorism. This interagency approach allows for early response and enforcement by clearing the communication channels between agencies and creating an environment that facilitates information and intelligence sharing. The result is an effective network that has the ability to identify information which might indicate impending terrorist activity. This group is a significant resource for identifying and assessing potential threats, making appropriate notifications and recommendations, and aiding in mission planning and the efficient allocation of resources. In the future, an additional article will be posted concerning the Terrorism Early Warning Group.
OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY
It is essential that law enforcement continue to enhance its response to potential threats related to local homeland security. In order to accomplish this mission, I have created my Department's Office of Homeland Security. The Office of Homeland Security (OHS) reports directly to me and is under the command of a Department Chief.
The OHS consists of several bureaus, including the Special Enforcement Bureau (SWAT and canine handlers), Safe Streets Bureau, Emergency Operations Bureau, Aero Bureau, Operations Bureau, Reserve Forces Bureau, and Office of Security Management. These groups have a common mission which involves a coordinated strategy of preparedness for Los Angeles County's first responders. The OHS liaisons with federal, state, county, and local agencies with a similar mission concerning the prevention and investigation of terrorist acts, and disaster preparedness and response.
HATE CRIMES TASK FORCE
In January of 2001, I announced the formation of the Hate Crimes Task Force. Shortly thereafter, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Hate Crimes Unit began monitoring all hate crime cases in the Department's jurisdiction. To date, several hundred cases have been investigated by the Hate Crimes Task Force.
The mission of the Hate Crimes Task Force is the reduction of bias-motivated violence and the accurate and complete reporting of hate crimes in Los Angeles County. The Task Force includes representatives from all law enforcement agencies within Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Attorney's Office.
CONTINUED PARTNERSHIP WITH ADL
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has a long history of working with law enforcement agencies to combat the threat of hate and extremist groups. My Department participates with ADL and similar agencies in utilizing ADL's invaluable Law Enforcement Advisory Committee and training resources. This association is reflective of our mission concerning public safety, and strengthens our partnership with local communities in fulfilling that mission.
Members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are committed to protecting all the people of Los Angeles County. We must ensure that no acts of hate or terrorism will be tolerated. I have the utmost confidence that every member of our Department will uphold our "Core Values" and defend the rights of every member of the communities we serve.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
As a leader in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, I commit myself to honorably perform my duties with the respect for the dignity of all people, integrity to do right and fight wrongs, wisdom to apply common sense and fairness in all I do and courage to stand against racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and bigotry in all its forms.
Sheriff Baca began his public service career on August 23, 1965, when he was sworn into the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as a Deputy Sheriff Trainee. Sheriff Baca worked through the early portion of his career in custody, recruitment, on patrol on the streets of East Los Angeles, and as staff instructor at the Sheriff's Academy. On December 7, 1998, Sheriff Baca was sworn in as Los Angeles County's 30th Sheriff, having been elected by the citizens of Los Angeles County. Sheriff Baca commands the largest Sheriff's Department in the world and supervises more than 13,000 sworn and civilian personnel.