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article imageOp-Ed: Potential mayhem when local, federal agencies not on same page

By Heike Winnig     Apr 26, 2010 in Crime
New York - He drove a rental car from Denver to New York transporting two pounds of explosives, arriving on Sept. 10, 2009. The New York Port Authority Police waved Najibullah Zazi across the border, not stopping him, although the FBI had alerted them.
A report by the New York Times on Feb. 22, 2010 elaborates that Najibullah Zazi is an Afghan-born man living in Colorado who had been trained in weapons and explosives in Pakistan. He is a key suspect in what authorities express as a widening investigation into a possible plot to discharge explosives in the United States. He was charged on Sept. 24, 2009, with one count of conspiring with others to use weapons of mass destruction, including bombs or other explosives, after initially being arrested for making false statements to the FBI. Mr. Zazi had nine pages of handwritten notes on how to make and handle bombs, according to court papers released the day after his arrest.
The failure to uncover the explosives after an alert about Mr. Zazi from the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been a widely discussed sore subject among police but was never publicly disclosed. According to Sean Gardiner’s report on April 26, 2010 with the Wall Street Journal, this fueled longstanding tensions between the Port Authority Police and the NYPD, which tensions are more evident since the 9/11 attacks. It is the Port Authority’s responsibility to protect the bridges, tunnels and major airports between New York and New Jersey.
AOL’s Mara Gay reported on Monday that there has been a lot of “finger pointing” amongst police and Port Authority about this mess, which could have become another extraordinary tragedy. Rumors have it that Mr. Zazi knew he was being followed by authorities when he reached the Port Authority’s checkpoint, meaning that he may have been tipped off.
One Port Authority Police Officer told the WSJ that they didn't have the authority to stop Mr. Zazi. "It was a cursory stop," he said anonymously to the Journal. "We didn't have a search warrant, no permission to go into the car. Anything seized from the car in such a search would have been inadmissible in court."
Unfortunately, miscommunication deems to be the theme of this event, and authorities almost didn’t catch their perpetrator before he went full throttle about his deadly plan and accomplished his attack of terror on the innocent and unsuspecting. Considering the past, it is difficult to comprehend why this could have been a possibility. Why no one asked questions, or so it seemed, and why casual acceptance for lack of information is the norm.
To continually be one step ahead of the ‘bad’ guy is challenging to say the least. To catch and stop a would-be terrorist in his tracks before he strikes to cause an impending catastrophe of horrendous magnitude is sheer awesomeness. The respect and gratitude that local police and federal government agencies should perceive to expect and deserve after a heroic intervention, if as such had been portrayed, is the very least the public can express.
The public mostly does not often think about the officers and agents who put their lives on the line for the sake of duty, “to protect and to serve” the citizens of their cities and nation. Appreciating the contradiction of previous articles written about police brutality, it can nevertheless not be ignored, that there are men and women who do sacrifice much, if not their lives, everyday to perform their sacred oath. To allow us our freedom and way of life.
Without pretense of expertise in the field of national security or crime investigation, it can also not be disregarded that local and federal agencies do not overall enjoy working together; even may it be for the same cause. Rarely do they like each other, though they may have grudging respect for one another. It’s probably the ‘glue’ that holds a precarious working relationship together. A stressful situation to maintain a delicate balance just to get the job done. More often than not, one would imagine they avoid working together at all cost.
Ego and territorial inclinations amongst officers and federal agents play a major role in how investigations are handled and resolved. These issues tend to waste time and effort, and lead to unnecessary additional problems instead of determining a positive outcome of the case at hand.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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