Pubdate: Sun, 28 Oct 2001
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Section: Nation/World, page 10
Copyright: 2001, The Tribune Co
Author: Kevin Sack (New York Times)


Officers Pressed Into New Duties, Military

The recent terrorist attacks are placing an intense burden on police 
departments across the country as officers juggle urgent new demands: 
responding to hundreds of reports of spilled powder, bolstering security in 
public places and even leaving their departments to serve in the military 

The shifting demands may force already-understaffed departments to consider 
jettisoning crime prevention tactics such as community policing, which have 
been praised for contributing to the decade long drop in crime but require 
considerable manpower.

And the burden on local law enforcement will only grow heavier if the FBI 
proceeds with plans to shed traditional portfolios such as bank robbery and 
drug trafficking so it can focus on fighting terrorism. As it is, the FBI 
has essentially suspended all but the highest-priority investigations, 
federal prosecutors say.

There are no statistics on how the war on terrorism has affected local 
policing, but some city departments say they have already experienced 
direct side effects. In Philadelphia, the police commissioner, John 
Timoney, attributes some of September's 37 homicides to the decision to 
move a number of narcotics detectives back to uniform street patrols in the 
city center. More than half of the September killings were drug-related, 
Timoney said. Under normal conditions, he said, he would have expected 
about 25 homicides last month.

"The homicides that are most amenable to police prevention are drug- 
related," he said, "because there will be a shooting followed by a 
retaliatory shooting followed by another retaliatory shooting. So, to the 
extent you can get in there and stop it quickly, you may prevent future 
shootings of a retaliatory nature."

In Los Angeles, the police department has been overwhelmed by calls about 
suspected anthrax powder, each taking several officers away from other 
duties for hours at a time. The department received 44 such calls Tuesday, 
and it handled 375 bomb threats and reports from Sept. 11 through Oct. 10.

Hardly any city has escaped major costs. Boston estimates it is spending 
$100,000 a week on police overtime.

Hillsborough County sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said there have 
been additional costs for beefed-up security but that the department hasn't 
determined how much.
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