U. S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Oct. 23, 2003
FOR DELIVERY*** REMARKS BY SECRETARY TOM RIDGE TO THE INTERNATIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
11:00 AM EDT
Thank you for that kind introduction.
It is an honor to speak
with you today in the hometown of one of our greatest Founding
Fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Ben Franklin
was also a Founding Father of the modern police force. As a young
man Franklin organized a “City Watch,” which patrolled
Philadelphia’s streets and helped keep its citizens safe.
Today, law enforcement
officers must do much more than keep “watch.” You’re
asked to go into dangerous places and face hardened criminals every
At the same time you must master the latest training and technology
-- manage community relations -- and maintain strong relationships
with your fellow first responders and public officials. And you
must do it all against the backdrop of this new era in which we
On September 11th, 2001, we were reminded that service sometimes
means sacrifice. More than 70 of your colleagues gave their lives
that day -- such as Port Authority Police Chief James Romito, who
was found along with four fellow officers beneath the World Trade
Center, next to a woman they had attempted to rescue.
That day, you redefined
what it means to protect and to serve. Our challenge today, and
every day in this new era, is to define
how best we can work together to protect America now and in the
future. You are an integral and vital part of homeland security.
And terrorism is one crime that must be “solved” – deterred,
discovered and defeated -- before it occurs. The stakes are simply
too high to do otherwise.
That is why the President
has asked law enforcement to shift its focus to prevention of
terrorist acts – to be “first
preventers” as well as first responders.
Our responsibility at the Department of Homeland Security is equally
clear. It is to build new barriers to terrorists and new bridges
to one another. We must create new layers of security around our
cities, airports, coastlines and borders. At the same time, we
must create new ways to share information and intelligence both
vertically, between governments, and horizontally, across agencies
The challenge is great – but it’s a challenge we can
meet by working together. I know we can meet it, because we’ve
met great challenges before. Before September 11th, the idea of
reorganizing 22 federal agencies into one Department was viewed
as intellectually provocative, but unlikely to occur.
As unlikely, perhaps,
as hiring and training nearly 50,000 airport screeners – or stationing U.S. agents at international ports
to inspect cargo containers before they arrive – or stockpiling
enough smallpox vaccine for every man, woman and child in America.
But it happened.
It happened because
we were focused not on who got the credit or who won or lost
the “turf battles” -- but simply
on how we could improve our performance. And that’s the focus
of your departments as well.
We cannot secure America
from Washington, D.C. We need the combined expertise, wisdom
and common sense of your members and the more
than 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers across the country.
There’s not a single federal agency with that kind of presence
on the ground.
The homeland will be secure only when the hometown is secure.
And you not only keep the hometown secure, you keep its character
strong. You and your officers are powerful weapons in this struggle.
You’ll recall that Timothy McVeigh was captured not by a
random screening, but by an alert state trooper suspicious of his
story. A few years later, one lone U.S. Customs inspector, acting
on instinct, opened the trunk of a car coming into the U.S. from
Canada and, by doing so, thwarted the Millennium bombing. That’s
the kind of performance we want to encourage and empower. And we
will – if we bring all sides, federal, state, local and Tribal,
and our resources, capabilities and expertise, together. The IACP
recognizes – and rightly so – that information-sharing
is the key to securing our homeland.
Your efforts with the
Global Intelligence Working Group to create a National Criminal
Intelligence-Sharing Plan and, as you say, “overcome...longstanding
barriers” is a helpful and welcome response.
Let me tell you about
what we’ve done since 9-11 to improve
the way we collect intelligence and share information at every
level of government.
First, the Department
has stood up our new Information Analysis and Infrastructure
Protection directorate, which helps us “connect
the dots” and spot patterns that might otherwise be hidden.
We will map those threats against critical infrastructure across
the country and, when necessary, recommend protective measures
to our state and local partners and the private sector. This is
no ivory tower initiative. Like you, we have to know “the
beat” we patrol.
IAIP will maintain a
nationwide vulnerability and risk assessment map of every sector
of this infrastructure – agriculture,
energy, transportation, water, telecom, national icons and monuments,
We are working with
businesses and industry to “harden” these
targets by increasing their visible security presence, developing
guidelines and creating a fast, two-way flow of information. And
we will work with law enforcement, as we did last spring during
Operation Liberty Shield, to increase protections during times
of heightened threat and to permanently enhance them where feasible
These are unprecedented partnerships for an unprecedented effort.
And leading it is a former Deputy Commissioner of Counter-Terrorism
for the New York City Police Department, Undersecretary Frank Libutti.
Our next challenge is to unite information scattered across the
federal government. No one stopped at our borders, airports or
our communities should ever get away because the officer did not
know what he needed to know when he needed to know it. When the
information is out there, we must be ready to capture and use it.
We are in the process of consolidating the various watch lists
and we realize that it is imperative that we can provide you with
the ability to determine if a suspect in on that watch list. This
will be accomplished through the new Terrorist Screening Center.
This center will consolidate and update terrorist watch lists and
provide operational support 24 hours a day to federal agents, screeners
and investigators around the world.
Of course, information
must flow both ways – not just from
Washington to the hometown, but from the hometown to Washington.
We must be smart and create new opportunities to utilize this knowledge.
Our Joint Terrorism
Task Forces are our “eyes and ears” for
receiving terrorism-related leads and intelligence. The Administration,
working through the FBI, has doubled the number of JTTF’s
to 84, bringing together 3,000 state, local and federal agents.
At the same time, DHS’s new Cyber Security Tracking Analysis
and Response Center will track threats to the nation’s electronic
nervous system, and share the information with other government
officials and the private sector.
Finally, our Homeland
Security Operations Center continues to monitor incidents in
every corner of the country, 24 hours a day,
seven days a week. Through it we have disseminated more than 50
Information Bulletins and Advisories to state and local law enforcement.
The latest was on October 10th, which pointed out that al Qaeda
may be poised to strike out at U.S. interests here and overseas.
Days later, a videotape purported to be from Osama bin Laden and
four deputies surfaced, threatening suicide attacks against the
U.S. and our allies. This is, of course, a global fight. The datelines
of terror are international -- Riyadh, Casablanca, Mombassa, Bali,
Jakarta, Najaf and Baghdad – all since 9-11.
The benefits enjoyed
by freedom-loving people – technology,
cross-border travel and commerce, instant communication – are
available to terrorists as well. So we must build new “barriers
and bridges” internationally as well.
We have made a world of progress on this front, too. Since 9-11,
more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been detained in nearly
100 nations. More than $100 million in terrorist assets worldwide
have been blocked or frozen.
Global “flying squads” are
channeling information overseas to the FBI. And a 29-nation Financial
Action Task Force
is cracking down on terrorist money-laundering. For all of that,
we have law enforcement to thank. We are also working with the
international community to fight terrorism at its source.
Catching terrorists at their departure point, not their destination
makes it less likely their deadly plans will come to fruition.
As mentioned earlier,
we have stationed U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at
the largest international ports to search
and label cargo long before it reaches our shores. We’ve
hired hundreds of new border inspectors and given them state-of-the-art
technology, such as VACIS machines -- which, by the way, have helped
us seize hundreds of thousands of pounds of illegal drugs. We’ve
signed agreements with Canada and Mexico to create “smart
borders” that use incentives, pre-clearances and technology
to keep terrorists and smugglers out and speed legitimate visitors
and commerce right through.
We’ve secured cockpit doors and placed hundreds of air marshals
on national and international flights. And we’re instituting
a landmark biometrics-based visa check system, U.S. VISIT, scheduled
to be ready at our international airports by year’s end.
Later today we will announce new maritime security measures to
make our ports safer.
Law enforcement officers
know that the “good guys” usually
follow the rules, and the “bad guys” try to get around
them. These measures will make it much harder for them to get away
You also know that terrorism
is not an isolated crime. Other crimes – money-laundering,
identity theft, telecommunications crimes – often facilitate
That’s why the IACP’s goal is to improve intelligence-sharing
across the board, regardless of whether it’s terrorism or
other crimes. And that is why this Administration has brought specialized
law enforcement officials together to solve these “enabling” crimes.
Operation Cornerstone is one example. Led by Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, or ICE, Operation Cornerstone targets a wide range
of money-laundering crimes -- including cash smuggling and insurance
schemes -- and shares information about crime methods with banks,
brokerage firms and other financial institutions. Secondly, we
are creating four new Electronic Crimes Task Forces in Cleveland,
Houston, Dallas and Columbia, South Carolina.
These Task Forces are
led by the U.S. Secret Service, now a vital part of DHS. They
focus on computer crimes including e-commerce
fraud, identity theft, telecommunications fraud and more. The New
York Task Force alone has netted more than a thousand suspects
and more than a billion dollars in ill-gotten gains [since its
inception]. Just as impressively, they’ve trained more than
15,000 law enforcement officers and business leaders to identify
and prevent these crimes.
These initiatives will
make the American people safer and more secure, from both terrorism
and crime. But they will require more
time and effort from law enforcement. And I know you already have
your hands full. After all, when the “new normal” began
on September 12th, 2001, your “old normal” responsibilities
didn’t just vanish. It’s amazing to me that in this
new era, even with the new responsibilities you shoulder, that
crime this year has fallen to a 30-year low.
That’s a credit to all of you, and all Americans should be
We understand that in
the end, it’s about saving lives.
And that takes both manpower and resources. We fought as hard as
you did for the $4 billion in grants and funds for our nation’s “first
preventers” and “first responders” from this
past fiscal year. These funds can be used for planning, training,
exercises, equipment and interoperable communications and technology.
Most of these funds
have already been awarded by the Department to our state and
local partners across the country. I’m also
proud to say that, in most cases, DHS made the grant awards in
a matter of days. They’re making a difference right now.
Police in Manchester, New Hampshire received new respirators. In
Duluth, Minnesota, ballistic-grade helmets were purchased. Marquette
County, Michigan, got an underwater video camera for coastline
security. And the Twin Falls, Idaho Police Department Bomb Squad
used their new bomb robot recently to safely detonate four loaded
pipe bombs discovered in the trunk of a car. Our investments, ladies
and gentlemen, are saving lives.
In addition, thanks
to the President and the Congress, over $4 billion has been provided
to DHS for our nation’s state and
local governments for this fiscal year as well. That will bring
the total to over $8 billion since March 1st of this year. More
than half a billion dollars was specifically designed for law enforcement
anti-terrorism grants. You fought hard for those funds, and so
did we. I know that after the President signed the FY 2004 budget,
we got to work right away to discuss how to best spend these dollars
so that we can enhance our partnership in preventing terrorism.
As you help develop
locally-driven plans to use these funds, we will develop new
and faster ways to get it out to you, as well
as accountability measures to ensure that it’s spent wisely
and according to plan. The political will at the federal level
and in Congress is strong; let’s keep it that way.
When I spoke earlier about two-way communication, I was talking
about the sharing of terrorism threat information. But I could
have referred to the dialogue and partnership we have enjoyed with
you. The IACP was an early and ardent supporter of the Department
of Homeland Security. And your proposals on intelligence- and information-sharing
have helped guide our own policies. Most recently, you helped us
develop an Initial National Response Plan that will begin the process
of unifying incident management throughout the nation.
Keep it up. Let us know
what we’ve done right and what we
could be doing better. It’s only through this two-way dialogue
that can we anticipate new challenges and solve them before they
can be exploited by our enemies, the terrorists. Hard work, dedication,
valor and heart are, by themselves, not enough to defeat the terrorists.
If they were, we would have licked the problem a long time ago.
But working together, in partnership, we can make America and the
world safer, stronger and freer than ever before. I am pleased
to say we are off to a great start.