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On April 15, two bombs went off at the Boston marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 100. Large public events are notoriously difficult to secure. From a homeland security perspective, what additional steps should be taken to secure outdoor events in an urban setting? Is there a limit to what can be done? How do we balance cost against benefits? (5 pages, 3 sources, APA style)

Post-Boston Marathon Counterterrorist Strategies


Post-Boston Marathon Counterterrorist Strategies: A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Analysis of Increased Physical Presence of Law Enforcement Units, Bomb Detection Dogs, and Proactive Video Surveillance for Urban Outdoor Events

This law enforcement study will define the additional steps to be taken through increased physical law enforcement presence, bomb detection dogs, and proactive video surveillance by the Department of Homeland Security to prevent future bombing attacks for large-scale urban outdoor events. The increased presence of local and state law enforcement officials under DHS supervision defines the increased costs for physical patrols and monitoring by police departments as a necessary expenditure in preventing terrorism. The cost of hiring police officers to work with DHS can be costly for federal law enforcement budgets, yet the use of street cameras to proactively monitor suspicious activity can be inexpensively utilized through ongoing surveillance during the event. In addition to these improvements, DHS will hire more bomb-detecting dogs to patrol target areas and to expose any potential bombs threats on a person or a specific location. In essence, the increased presence of policing units and the use of video surveillance technology may represent costly budgetary limitations, but these additional tool for monitoring terrorism are essential for DHS to succeed in preventing terrorism in large-scale urban outdoor events.

The use of bomb specialist policing units at the local and state levels can also be utilized through the funding and management of the DHS for large outdoor events. This type of strategy has been a proven, yet a sometimes costly means in which to prevent terrorists from gaining physical access to important areas of an outdoor event. After the Boston Marathon attack, the DHS organized numerous local counterterrorist units in New York as a means in which to prevent further terrorist access to city landmarks:

In New York, authorities deployed highly visible patrol units that move in packs with lights and sirens along with more than 1,000 counterterrorism officers. Highly trafficked tourist landmarks were being especially monitored ("Worldwide Security", 2013, para.16).

From a policing perspective, the DHS can provide funding for local specialists in terrorist monitoring and provide the necessary support needed for future sporting events taking place in large cities. Since April 18th, many of the large-scale movements of policing units throughout the country were a necessary reaction to the Boston Marathon attack. However, the DHS needs to proactively fund and manage local and state terrorist policing units to monitor and provide a physical presence through bomb squads, undercover police presence, and uniformed police foot patrols. The large-scale federal reaction to urban terrorism at the Boston Marathon dictates a macro style of management when coordinating local and state law enforcement. DHS has a wide range of fiscal and legal authority to manage these types of terrorist events through a diverse array policing units, bomb specialists, and federal counterterrorist agents throughout the entire course of an outdoor event.

The use of bomb-detecting dogs has become an increasingly inexpensive way for policing units on the street to monitor urban events for DHS officials and local policing authorities in the search for terrorist explosives. For instance, DHS can create federal umbrella programs for local law enforcement patrols that utilize canine olfactory detection to seek out potential bomb threats. By understanding the cost-effectiveness of bomb-detecting dog units, the DHS often funds these projects to help defray costs from the city and/or state budgetary allowances. Often, states with limited law enforcement budgets are vulnerable to terrorist attacks because they do not have the funds to supply extra dogs at these types of urban events. For example, Pittsburgh local law enforcement agencies and the DHS are proactively hiring more bomb-detecting dogs for the Pittsburgh Marathon in reaction to the events of the Boston Marathon:

"We paid for dogs. We trained the dogs. We have about 16 of them throughout the region. We have a specialized response vehicle, all purchased with Homeland Security dollars," said Demichiei [Pittsburgh's emergency management director] ("Boston Marathon Bombing", 2013, para.9).

This proactive example of the use of bomb-detecting dogs is primarily based on the lessons learned by the DHS and local policing authorities in Boston, which are now being utilized by Pittsburgh city officials. Historically, bomb-detecting dogs have traditionally played a crucial role in finding bombs at stationary locations such as schools, cars, and buildings. However, the DHS can provide funding for mobile canine units to cover the entire route of the Pittsburgh marathon at key locations. These factors define the immediate sense of preventative methods being used by local bomb-detection dog units, which are proactively working to cover large urban areas through increased mobility. The funding provided by the DHS can provide funding and the more advanced coordination and management of dog teams in this type of urban environment. Currently, Pittsburgh is ready to implement greater policing resources through bomb-detection dogs as an inexpensive way for local policing units to detect explosives and prevent terrorism in this Post-Boston Marathon event.

The use of video surveillance has become an increasing inexpensive way for DHS officials and law enforcement agents to evaluate suspicious behavior in detecting a crime after its inception. Certainly, the availability of street cameras and private video monitors for local business is already an important tool in detecting terrorist activity. Yet the DHS and local policing units need to be proactively monitoring street activity in coordination with physical policing units on the ground. However, the use of proactive video surveillance through public street cameras can be of a great assistance in reducing workloads for policing units on the street. This video surveillance strategy is crucial for monitoring large groups in open urban areas as a cost-effective for preventing terrorist activity:

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