Metro police officers could help fight terror

Thursday, September 11th 2008, 8:14 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - For this year's Sept. 11 anniversary, Oklahoma City's Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism is launching a program aimed at preventing future terror attacks.

It's a new MIPT training program that could turn local police officers into double agents- not just crime fighters, but also intelligence gatherers.

Although there hasn't been a successful terror attack in the U.S. since Sept. 11, terror experts say the threat still exists.

MIPT Executive Director Don Hamilton said the threat can be minimized by broadening our definition of counter-terrorism, and making sure that it is intelligence driven.

"And not intelligence, as it now exists with a capital "I," we need to think about intelligence as also being something that is fed and used by patrol officers," Hamilton said.

That's why MIPT is now offering to train officers from departments across the metro to better recognize signs of possible terror activity and what to do with that information.

"We do a great job with drug interdiction, and like you said, criminal activity, but terrorism is a new thing of the 21st century," Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said.

Clabes said anything they can do to better protect the public, they are in.

"Our guys are the ones who are out there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so they're the ones we need to train to make sure we get the information necessary, and maybe just a little piece of information, but that could prevent a future attack," Clabes said.

Making the police part of the intelligence community, experts said, is one way law enforcement can adapt to the evolving threat of terrorism, and will help safeguard a nation that may be feeling, seven years later, that it's over.

"Because it's not over, we just need a steady, flexible, constant level of attention." Hamilton said.

One of the exciting things about this training is MIPT is providing it free. They expect to begin the program next month and if it's successful, they'll try to offer it nationwide.