9-11 Had Profound Effects On Law Enforcement Training

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Columbus Police Lieutenant Timothy Sansbury trains officers and new recruits.(Photo: Tom Borgerding/WOSU)
Columbus Police Lieutenant Timothy Sansbury trains officers and new recruits.(Photo: Tom Borgerding/WOSU)

Nine eleven had profound and lasting effects on law enforcement. Training and tactics changed.  Equipment was added. But, more subtly, Bexley police chief Larry Reinhart says the tone of law enforcement changed.

“Now we spend more time thinking about and preparing for a potential enemy here in the homeland whereas before wars were something that was fought on distant soil.” Says Reinhart
In small cities like Bexley, in suburbs,  and in large cities like Columbus the terrorist attacks of ten years ago  brought tight focus and more duties to law enforcement.

“Prior to nine-eleven, we didn’t as first responders really have any terrorist awareness training.”

Lieutenant Tim Sansbury trains officers and recruits at the Columbus Police Academy. He lists the  changes in police training curricula directly tied to 9-11.

“Terrorism awareness, hazardous materials, weapons of mass destruction, most of those things are new to the basic curriculum.”  Says Sansbury.

Sansbury says in the last few years Columbus has issued new respiratory equipment to patrol officers including chemical suits and upgraded gas masks. The city’s  18-hundred officers also have to pay closer attention and process more information, sometimes critical intelligence.

“For instance, if we get a terrorist threat or some intelligence that there is an active terrorist in the area, we will get the information out to the officers because we understand  that they are the most likely to encounter that person for the very first time.”

Sansbury says a terrorism ‘early warning group’ is in contact with officers about possible threats, even across jurisdictional lines.  In Delaware County, Sheriff Walter Davis says there’s a realization among deputies and supervisors that terrorism is what he calls a “true threat” and so his department has used federal grants to improve communication, especially with other law enforcement agencies.   Davis says his deputies also get training in keeping a watchful eye  -  whether it be over  corn fields  or the strip malls and sub-divisions that surround Polaris.

“If we focus maybe on some of the chemicals that you use in farmland,   those type of things. Well, if we single that out we’ll miss something. And we’d prefer to kind of keep our hand over everything.”  Sheriff Davis says.

Bexley Chief Rinehart says that heightened awareness and constant monitoring is part of the lasting effect on law enforcement from that day ten years ago when America was attacked on its own soil.

“It was incredibly intense. I would say that’s the one impact its had on law enforcement. Its changed the intensity of the job.”  Says Rinehart.

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