Chicago Police CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) vehicle. Photo credit: Asher Heimermann (CC-By-3.0)
A Chicago Police CAPS (Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy) vehicle
Photo credit: Asher Heimermann (CC-By-3.0)

Ted Cruz is taking some heat about his statement released after the Brussels attack. Specifically under fire is his remark that “we need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.

What Cruz is suggesting is a combination of community policing and a specific task force to handle radical Islamic terrorism. This isn’t a new concept. I’ve seen a few folks freaking out so I wanted to point out what this doesn’t mean.

  1. It is not imposing marshal law.
  2. It is not rounding Muslims up into a ghetto.
  3. It is not about initiating a surveillance state in Muslim neighborhoods.

This isn’t about the creation of a police state. I would be against that.

If you look at some communities in Europe you see isolated Muslim neighborhoods where the police fear to go mainly out of fear of political correctness or because how residents have handled emergency response services entering those communities. These are sometimes called no-go zones that are fortunately not a problem in the United States yet.  Yet with the onset of ISIS, along with their recruitment efforts using social media, the concern about home-grown Islamic terrorism is at an all-time high.

What Cruz advocates is a common-sense approach to law enforcement within existing Muslim communities:

  1. It is allocating police officers to specific areas so they are familiar with the residents and, most importantly, build rapport with them.
  2. It is training officers on cultural differences and nuances within predominantly Muslim neighborhoods.
  3. It’s recruiting police officers who speak, in this case, Arabic (or Farsi, Pashtun or whatever the predominant language is in the neighborhood).
  4. It’s also recruiting officers from the neighborhood.
  5. Equipping and resourcing undercover operations based on human intelligence.

Mainly it’s about building rapport and trust. When the police are trusted it is easier to develop confidential informants who can clue police in on suspected terrorist cells. Task forces are trained to better be able to gather human intelligence, etc. This method requires direct engagement, indirect engagement and media communication strategies.

This is not new. It’s largely proactive.

People are also freaking out because it targets Muslim neighborhoods. Look if there were terror cells being formed among Presbyterians, Lutherans or Baptists I’d say target them. I’ve not seen or heard of any radicalized Presbyterians, Lutherans or Baptists blowing themselves up or going on shooting sprees, have you? Not to say this should be the only strategy, but it is one that shouldn’t be ignored. Political correctness can paralyze us from preventing terrorist attacks if we let it.

Let’s use some common sense.

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