Terrorist activity and mass shootings in communities across America since 9 1 1 has changed the landscape for local law enforcement agencies. Kingman Police Chief Bob Devries said officers and deputies still have all their traditional responsibilities, but also must now be prepared to act as soldiers on occasion.
“It has brought a whole new level and tactic to the agencies and that’s why you’ve heard me say repeatedly how strongly I feel about ensuring that our officers have the best in training and the best in equipment to keep them safe as well as the community,” Devries said.
While federal agencies are involved with monitoring and vetting terrorist activity and threats, it’s usually officers from local agencies who are first responders in mass attacks upon citizens in places like Paris and San Bernardino.
“It’s not the feds coming in. It’s your local cops coming in. These are the guys coming in running through the buildings where the shooter is and taking them out,” said Mohave County Sheriff Jim McCabe. “It’s not the feds. It’s not the Army. It’s not the Navy. It’s not the Marines. It’s your local cops. It has put a complete different spin on what we’re responsible for, including a different spin on our training and our equipment needs. All that has changed.”
McCabe said susceptibility to terrorism is a byproduct of American liberty.
“The truth of the matter is that we are so vulnerable as a nation because of our freedoms and our rights,” McCabe said. “As long as we have these freedoms and our rights to freely move about that are protected under the Constitution we will be vulnerable.”
That the San Bernardino shooters were never identified as suspicious, or possible threats, during two years of radicalization raises the question whether Muslim extremists might be living undetected amongst us.
“That’s always a possibility,” said Devries. “The better your community is connected and aware of their surroundings the better we stand to be able to impact something like that before it happens.”
McCabe said the Sheriff’s Office has noticed a more vigilant citizenry of late.
“I wouldn’t call it hysteria. I would call it an awareness of activity by different middle eastern people and if you don’t know them and all of a sudden you’re seeing them. People are calling and saying ‘hey, you might want to take a look at this, take a look at that’, and that’s fine,” McCabe said. “I don’t consider that hysteria. We’re telling everybody ‘see something, say something’ and they’re taking that step. I don’t think these people are being racist or hysterical. I think they’re being a little bit more cautious than they may have been before San Bernardino.”