Thursday, October 11, 2007

This Can't Be Good

US switches resources to fight terror


By Edward Luce and Matthew Garrahan in Los Angeles

Published: October 10

The US government is putting dramatic crime reduction gains over the past 15 years in jeopardy by switching too many resources from mainstream policing to counter-terrorism, according to Bill Bratton, chief of police of the Los Angeles Police Department.

“The federal government is a one-eyed Cyclops – it can only focus on one thing at a time,” said Mr Bratton, in an interview with the Financial Times. “We have to fight a two-front war on terrorism internationally and on crime at home. You cannot fight terrorism at the expense of 16,000 homicides a year.”

Mr Bratton, credited with reducing New York’s alarming homicide rate in the 1990s when he pushed “zero-tolerance” policing as head of the New York Police Department, said Washington had pared down federal police funding to worryingly low levels since the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001.

The result has been a rise in recorded crime, which Mr Bratton described as a “gathering storm”. The impressive gains of the 1990s, when cities such as New York more than halved their homicide rates, were being put at risk by “an ideological bias” in Washington that saw policing and law and order as an issue for states rather than the federal government.

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