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Analysis of the U.S. Law Enforcement Community's Approach to the Terrorist Threat (From International Terrorism: The Decade Ahead, P 83-91, 1989, Jane Rae Buckwalter, ed. -- See NCJ-120184)

NCJ Number
W Dyson
Date Published
9 pages
Only recently have the police recognized the need to establish specialized units and operations to address the threat of terrorism.
In the latter 1960's and through much of the 1970's, many law enforcement agencies viewed terrorist activity as common criminality to be addressed as any other crime. Police attempted to use traditional techniques to locate terrorist fugitives. Since terrorists are politically motivated and form distinctive associations related to their ideology, traditional investigative techniques are not effective. Police in the 1970's also generally failed to distinguish between dissenters and terrorists. By the end of the 1970's, philosophies had changed. Police had come to realize that terrorism was a specialty and that terrorists are different from common criminals. Terrorist task forces have developed and become effective tools for addressing the terrorist threat. Many of the successes achieved over the past several years have involved proactive policing. Terrorists have been either "caught in the act" or been prevented from perpetrating a planned attack. Some of the groups undermined by police efforts have been the Weather Underground and the FALN Puerto Rican extremist group.