This is the headline from a Newsday article today talking about comments from the NYPD Police Commissioner:
NYPD Won’t Let Its Guard Down When It Comes to Terrorism
Though many of you may not like this stance, perhaps arguing that there are other concerns for America to focus on, or that the threats have not materialized the way they have in European and other countries! It is important to remember that because things have been quiet since that day when planes flew into buildings in New York, and that it did not happen in your city, what you do not know may-be most important.
What you do not know, and perhaps cannot know, is what has been stymied or prevented by law enforcement and intelligence officials in their investigative efforts. When something does not happen, it can be the lack of sensational news that keeps it out of the public eye. Further, when an investigation is successful, it may need to continue without a reportable resolution because of ongoing investigative efforts.
Things have changed considerably since that tragic September 11 morning in American history. Unfortunately, you now see a more visible security presence in many cities. More officers with guns and the guns may be more representative of the kind of law enforcement capabilities that you prefer not to see. By that, I mean the presence of rifles and tactical clothing on city streets.
As disturbing as these images may be for some Americans, they may offer great comfort and assurance to many others. Many people enjoy arguing against these visible signs of defensive/offensive capabilities by law enforcement. But what may these images represent to the terrorist organization or the radicalized lone wolf that considers their own acts against the peace and safety of our society?
Many years ago, I must admit, many decades ago, my liaison person with the Israeli Consulate made a prophetic comment to me. Perhaps better put, a warning to me.
He stated that one day, Americans will understand the steps that the Israeli government and people go to, in their effort to protect people traveling on their state airline, Elal. And the images one might expect to see walking in the cities and towns in Israel.
Regardless of your view or opinion of Israel and politics, those words have proven to be true. This was said to me at a time in America when one could go to our airport, LAX, walk unchallenged up to the check-in gate before a flight, without a ticket, or with a friend that was traveling. That was a time when you could stand at the window and watch a plane load, and pull away from the jetway before take off. What I learned from my associate was that Israeli security required passengers arrive several hours prior to boarding a flight to Israel. That time was often between 2 to 4 hours prior to boarding. It was their time for security screening of passengers and luggage.
Do we like this inconvenience? No, of course not! But do we appreciate the probability that it may protect us from terrorist attacks on our flight? I think so!
There may be ongoing threats in your city even as you read this posting. There may be neighbors or coworkers, much like in the case of the San Bernardino, California, attack by American coworkers, growing out of so-called “homegrown” radicalized influence.
It is clear today that these threats do not have to come from the “movie style” guys wearing culturally specific and easily identifiable clothing, spouting angry or radial dialogue, and looking sweaty face and threateningly.
Should you be living in fear? No! But you could, if you choose, appreciate those law enforcement and intelligence officials that do not sleep each night in peace and free of the stress of those threats each and every day. You should appreciate that generally speaking, you can go about your days and nights with a reasonable comfort that all is well. Because it is. Thanks in part to those law enforcement guys in the scary looking outfits.
Do we want better? Yes, we do! But while we work on peace, we need those people out there working to ensure the peace, during the diplomatic, educational and social process.