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AgroterrorismWhy We're Not Ready: A Look at the Role of Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 257 Dated: June 2007 Pages: 36-39
Date Published
June 2007
4 pages
Publication Series

This article explores the role and preparedness of law enforcement in the event of a terrorist attack on America's food supply, known as agroterrorism.


The author argues that law enforcement agencies across the country are ill-equipped to prevent and handle a major agroterrorism event. Although public health officials seem like the natural choice for leadership should such an event occur, the laws in many States require agroterrorism to be treated as a crime investigation, making it the purview of local law enforcement officials. Three main roles of law enforcement following an agroterrorism incident are identified: (1) establish and enforce a strict quarantine around the affected area; (2) erect State-wide roadblocks to help contain the disease; and (3) carry out primary crime scene investigation roles, including evidence collection. Law enforcement officials are also responsible for preventing agroterrorism attacks in the first place. The author stresses that preventing agroterrorism attacks relies on the development of partnerships between local law enforcement, farmers, ranchers, meatpackers, truckers, feedlot owners, and other members of the food supply chain. These critical partnerships can assist law enforcement in identifying vulnerabilities in the food supply chain and minimizing the likelihood of an attack and the severity of an attack's impact. Five countermeasures are recommended to prevent agroterrorism: intelligence, surveillance, rapid diagnosis capabilities, rapid incident response, and training. Resources are identified to assist local law enforcement in carrying out agroterrorism prevention and response and include training opportunities across the country for law enforcement and an international gathering hosted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Notes

Date Published: June 1, 2007