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Public Policy and Administration


Mark Stallo


Leadership within local police organizations should be able to, but do not, process information and create actionable strategies aimed toward proactive counterterrorism practices. This problem could lead to future terrorist attacks within the United States if police agencies do not adjust their tactics in response to growing terrorist threats. A possible cause of this problem is that leadership within local law enforcement agencies is reactive in nature and as a consequence, do not encourage officers to engage in proactive strategies. Using Easton's conceptualization of systems theory as the foundation, the purpose of this case study of a single law enforcement agency in the southwest was to explore how police leadership influences counterterrorism strategies. Research questions focused on how police leadership processed information within their organization to develop counterterrorism tactics. Data were collected from interviews with police leadership and officers, observations of policing activities, and document review of policies, directives, and unclassified reports. These data were coded and analyzed following Yin's procedure for schematic analysis. The results indicated that this agency has a successful counterterrorism strategy based on 6 organizational pillars of leading, proactive, learning, processing, policy, and communication. This study may promote positive social change by helping police leaders identify which system inputs provide the best detail for developing counterterrorism policy, and what community partnerships help police identify terrorism threats.

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