The Use of Interagency Liaisons and the Fight Against Terrorism2013-08-28T16:11:17-04:00

Submission to IFPO

May 2, 2003

Linda Kropp
Kylee Notaro
Lindsay Sokol

Terrorism is defined as "Strategy employing the use or threat of force to achieve political or social objectives" (Hertig, 2002, p.142). Liaison refers to when two or more groups can work together to achieve a common goal. Since the events of September 11th there has been a growing need for liaisons between security, government, and private industries in order to prevent horrific terrorist attacks in the future. There have been some new programs implemented to help with this current liaison issue, but not even the new Homeland Security Department has been able to bring the F.B.I. and C.I.A. together; the two main components needed in unifying efforts against terrorism.

Post September 11th
Since September 11th, the management personnel of security departments have focused more on the need for efficient security measures to be taken (Harowitz, 2001). These new security measures would enable better visitor access controls, better elevator controls, and more surveillance. The new surveillance, such as sensors, is intended to be automated software (Harowitz, 2001). There is much need for this new equipment and liaisons between agencies that will use this type of surveillance, so they can work together and solve problems more quickly.

A team known as the Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) which includes experts such as structural and fire engineers, blast-effects specialists, building designers, and investigators, performed an extensive study on the World Trade Center (Gips, 2002). The specialist's main focus was to see what caused the collapse and what lessons could be learned from all of this (Gips, 2002). This group was sponsored and supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and put together by the Structural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers, known as SEI/ASCE (Gips, 2002). These organizations are working together to try to prevent this from re-occurring and to implement new building designs. In their report it had been noted that the two towers were built to withstand an impact of a jet on a smaller scale then the actual 707 aircraft used in the attacks (Gips, 2002). Building engineers also discovered that specific design features were employed in the twin towers that helped keep the buildings from collapsing for as long as possible (Gips, 2002). The planes destroyed between 27 and 32 columns, which gave the Trade Centers the support needed to keep standing. Many experts say that the buildings remained standing after this happened because of their size and the exterior columns having been placed so close together.

Cause of Towers Collapsing
The FEMA/ASCE study confirmed that what caused the buildings to ultimately collapse was the fire started by the jet fuel, which melted away the interior structure and spread throughout the buildings (Gips, 2002). The sprinkler system was unable to function properly because the impact by both jets destroyed the active water supply. The researchers went on to explain that the system probably would not have functioned properly because the flames would have taken over making it impossible to extinguish the fire (Gips, 2002). Another problem was the stairwells, which were too close together and after the jet impact many exit routes were blocked off. Chicago engineer, W. Gene Corley, commented in regards to the stairwells, that engineers feel it is more appealing to spread stairwells out. Therefore, if there is an impact there would be a better chance that the impact won't take out all the stairwells, as it did in building one (Gips, 2002). The main areas of the building structures that needed improvement which were revealed in this study and others, were the following:

  • Support structures or columns
  • Stairwells
  • Fireproofing techniques

Building Codes and New Construction Ideas
Jonathon Barnett, a member of SEI/ASCE, suggests that new building codes may not need to be changed. The trade centers were built in the sixties and seventies, and building codes have changed since then. Based on the limited data he possesses, Barnett feels that there is no need for change in building codes because they were sufficient codes. Robert C. Wilbe, executive director of the National Conference of States on Building Codes and Standards, agrees with Barnett: "There are just some things that a building will not stand up to" (Gips, 2002, p.58).

The president of Hinman Consulting Engineers in San Francisco, CA, Eve E. Hinman, gives several new ideas on how the construction of the World Trade Center may have led to the high death toll. Hinman believes that there are new structural measures for building designs that can be implemented with minimal cost; an example would be some of the measures utilized to strengthen buildings in seismic zones (Harowitz, 2001). These may not have necessarily prevented the towers from collapsing; however, she insists that "they could help increase the number of survivors from a less devastating attack" (Harowitz, 2001 p. 42). The importance of construction is prominent, as Eve Hinman described; but rescuers, builders, and law enforcement officials all need to work together in creating a safe and secure environment for future employees.

What Have We Learned?
A most important lesson learned from September 11th is the need for stronger liaisons between government agencies, police departments, security officials, builders, and rescue agencies. However, many are unsure of how many reforms are needed for new building measures.

The growing terrorism problems and the attacks on September 11th should have had an impact on liaisons between government agencies, police, and security personnel. They should be able to work together to stop the threats that terrorists pose on our country, but this is not the case. More and more we are seeing a gap between these agencies, which needs to be resolved.

Problems With Liaisons
According to a study done in the 1970's, by the Private Security Advisory Council, "The major barrier identified by the Committee is a role conflict, which manifests itself in the lack of clear role identifications, perceptual distortions, and mutual negative stereotyping between private security and law enforcement" ("Law Enforcement," 1976). Law enforcement agencies and private security organizations were both invented to perform protective functions in society. However there are clear differences in their organizational structures, their protective roles, and the primary beneficiaries of their services. Major differences between these two groups stem from whether they are government agencies or private corporations. These discrepancies are the underlying reasons for conflict between private security and law enforcement ("Law Enforcement," 1976).

Public and private groups do not always work well together. Public interest and concerns are the main focus of law enforcement, while private security is concerned with private matters. The main areas of conflict between them are lack of mutual respect, communications, cooperation, standards, perceived corruption, and the lack of law enforcement knowledge of private security ("Law Enforcement," 1976).

According to Hertig (personal communication, April 8, 2003), in order to solve the current liaison problem, "The first step is that there needs to be an understanding of the role and purpose of each organization, examine the capabilities of each organization, meet with and get to know the key persons in the other organizations, and consider meetings or joint training exercises or hosting seminars that various organizations can attend." Once these liaisons are developed they must be maintained through "respect," acquiring relations with work peers, "know the law, know the policy." It is also crucial to keep incident scenes protected, be thorough at initial investigations, and be proficient at court cases and presentation of material in court. One must have good communications with other agencies, "joint training," and maintain a membership with either law enforcement or investigative organizations.

Although good liaisons are scarce certain organizations have been making attempts in creating new and strong relations. The ASIS International website helps in forming liaisons by providing many links to other organizations. One such organization is the Awareness of National Security Issues and Response, ANSIR, created by the FBI. The FBI has been providing awareness information to the ANSIR organization as a part of its national security mission. The information given helps in informing United States persons, corporations, and institutions to intelligence and terrorist activities (ASIS International, 2003).

These large organizations are setting examples and creating new opportunities for smaller entities such as individual security professionals to strengthen their liaisons. Randy Rice (personal communication, April 25, 2003), Regional Security Director of 14 shopping centers, gave the suggestion of allowing private security to have direct radios with police, fire departments, and EMS. This will in turn allow security forces to act more quickly when disaster strikes. "It's our property, who knows it better than us?" Rice stated. Allowing these groups to work in their familiar areas cuts down on the amount of time it takes for others to respond. The more functions that the private industries are involved in, which do not have to be performed by the police, the better.

There are ways in which liaisons can be formed between different law enforcement and security agencies, but there seems to be that void somewhere that is not being filled. The gap lies somewhere within our government, as soon as we can get our government working properly, security and law enforcement agencies will most likely follow, forming stronger liaisons.

Assessments Government Made After September 11th
One of the first assessments our government made was to try and improve the Airport Security as well as any other means of transportation. This was done through the "Aviation and Transportation Security Act." This Act formed the Transportation Security Administration, and added more security measures to most transportation facilities, including airports.

Many believe that what went wrong on September 11th is that the FBI and CIA did not communicate well enough. Due to this belief, President Bush saw the need for a separate agency to focus strictly on terrorism. Bush stated that the new department "would be devoted to overseeing functions now dispersed among a confusing patchwork of dozens of agencies" ("A Huge Government Reorganization," 2003). The Department of Homeland Security was created to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, minimize the damage, and recover swiftly from an attack.

The goal of Homeland Security is to restructure the government so that the most important agencies, which are responsible for protecting the country, can communicate effectively and act swiftly, under the leadership of one individual (Hall, 2002). The man chosen to lead this Department was Tom Ridge (former Pennsylvania Governor). Given a budget of $19 billion in 2002, and a proposed $38 billion in 2003, this is in no way an inexpensive plan, but is expected to be quite efficient in the event of another attack. Yet, when asked about Homeland Security the public was hesitant, only 13% felt a lot safer, 47% a little safer, while 39% did not feel any safer (Hall, 2002).

Most states have implemented their own form of Homeland Security. States such as Pennsylvania have created a specific system for citizens to know how to spot and report suspicious behavior (Pennsylvania Homeland Security, 2003). This system has a step-by-step acronym for citizens to follow when they come in contact with peculiar behavior that might indicate terrorist activity. This acronym is known as SALUTE:

  • S- Size (Jot down the number of people, gender, ages, and physical descriptions)
  • A- Activity (Describe exactly what they are doing)
  • L- Location (Provide exact location)
  • U- Uniform (Describe what they are wearing, including shoes)
  • T- Time (Provide date, time, and duration of activity)
  • E- Equipment (Describe vehicle, make, color etc., license plate, camera, guns, etc.) (Pennsylvania Homeland Security, 2003)

Other states have followed suit. New York and the District of Columbia have made their own changes regarding Homeland Security. In New York they have an Office of Public Security as well as a Senior Advisor to the Governor for Counter-Terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security has five major department components. They are listed as:

  • Border and Transportation Security (BTS)
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR)
  • Science and Technology (S&T)
  • Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP)
  • Management (U. S. Department of Homeland Security, 2003)

Prior to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, ASIS had formed its own councils that are similar to the divisions of the Homeland Security Department. The Transportation Council within the ASIS website coincides with the BTS division in the Homeland Security Department. Both focus on the security of the transportation systems within our country. Another council created by ASIS is the Disaster Management Council. This council is equivalent to the EPR component of the Homeland Security Department. They were both formed to create emergency response measures for our nation in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster (ASIS International, 2003). These two organizations and their sub-divisions have the potential to form a strong liaison.

Private industries have also been affected since the attacks on September 11th. Security in most work places has been raised. Those who have been considering installing new means of security were ordered to put them in as soon as possible. In the Security Management magazine they noted that, "Attention was being focused on better visitor access controls, better elevator controls, and more surveillance that included some form of automated 'intelligent' software that can, for example send an alarm when a person leaves a bag or parks a truck where they shouldn't" (Harowitz, 2001, p.42).

Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11th, liaisons within security, government, and private industries were in place but not actively maintained. After the attacks, it became obvious that the current liaisons were not strong enough. New measures have been taken to strengthen these relations with the hopes of preventing any future terrorist attacks. Even though these new measures have not been put into full effect, should the situation arise, we are better prepared to prevent and recover from terrorist attacks.


ASIS International. (2003). ANSIR: Awareness of national security issues and response. Retrieved April 27, 2003, from

CNN News. (September 6, 2003). A huge government reorganization for homeland security. Retrieved April 9, 2003, from http://cnn.usnews.

Gips, Michael A. (2002, September). Reexamining premises for high rise design. Security Management, 46-82.

Hall, Mimi. (November 26, 2002). New homeland security faces challenges. Retrieved April 9, 2003, from

Harowitz, Sherry L. (2001, November). Rebuilding on security's solid foundation. Security Management, 42-44.

Hertig, Christopher A. (2002). Counter terrorism and VIP protection. Davies in Minion, (Ed.), Protection Officer Training Manual, (pp. 142-149). Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Hertig, Christopher A. (2003). Investigation: Concept and practices for security professionals, Davies in Minion, (Ed.), Protection Officer Training Manual,
(pp. 17-19). Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Law enforcement and private security sources and areas of conflict. (August, 1976). Private Security Advisory Council. 2-5.

Pennsylvania Homeland Security. (March 26, 2003). Spotting and reporting suspicious behavior in Pennsylvania is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Retrieved April 27, 2003, from:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2003). DHS organization. Retrieved April 30, 2003, from


Linda Kropp is a junior at York College of Pennsylvania. She transferred to York as a junior from the State University of New York, Albany. She is majoring in Criminal Justice and is a current member of ASIS.
Kylee Notaro is a sophomore at York College of Pennsylvania. She is majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Information Systems.
Lindsay Sokol is a sophomore at York College of Pennsylvania and a current ASIS member. She is majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology.