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U.S. Department of Homeland Security  
  

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Oct. 23, 2003
Contact: 202-282-8010

***PREPARED FOR DELIVERY*** REMARKS BY SECRETARY TOM RIDGE TO THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Philadelphia, PA
11:00 AM EDT

REMARKS:
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 day.

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 live.

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 and jurisdictions.

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, and more.

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 [Project 180].

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 with it.

You also know that terrorism is not an isolated crime. Other crimes – money-laundering, identity theft, telecommunications crimes – often facilitate terrorism.

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 proud.

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.

Thank you.

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