Assessing Potential High-risk Targets

Protecting critical infrastructure can advance national and local efforts to combat terrorism. NIJ has worked with researchers to develop vulnerability assessments for seaports, shopping malls, trains, subway systems, and agricultural industries; and to help prepare first responders.

Preventing Agricultural Terrorism. Law enforcement agencies lack the resources for an effective response to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (whether it occurs naturally or by deliberate terrorist attack). Foot-and-mouth disease is a virulent and sometimes fatal disease that frequently affects cattle and pigs. Prevention efforts might include identifying threats to the local agricultural industry, developing new partnerships, establishing an effective intelligence network, and developing local community policing programs for agriculture.

Shopping Mall Preparedness. Researchers in an NIJ-funded study found that shopping malls have taken steps to improve security, but some gaps still remain. The research involved surveys with State homeland security advisors and security directors of the Nation's largest indoor retail malls.

The report recommended that planners conduct formal risk assessments, develop and rehearse emergency response plans and involve stakeholders, standardize anti-terrorism training courses, and enhance partnerships with the public sector. The report also contains a state-by-state analysis of State laws focused on regulating the hiring and training of private security personnel.

Securing America’s Passenger Rail System. More than 12 million Americans travel on passenger-rail lines each weekday, and the open nature of rail systems make them attractive terrorist targets. Spectacular terrorist bombings of passenger rail systems in Mumbai, Madrid, and London in recent years have produced hundreds of casualties, heightening concerns about the possibility of similar attacks on American soil.

An NIJ-sponsored study found that while bombings are the most prevalent terrorist threat to rail systems, most bombings produce few fatalities and injuries. The study identifies 17 options for improving security. Some of the options, such as enhanced security training, are relatively inexpensive.

The study gives transit security managers a way to evaluate varying approaches to increasing security, such as deploying canine teams or installing sophisticated vehicle surveillance systems. The study gives practical guidance to managers about how to improve safety efficiently and economically.

Read the full monograph from the RAND Corporation, which conducted the study for NIJ, Securing America’s Passenger-Rail System Exit Notice.

Protecting America's Ports: Assessing Coordination Between Law Enforcement and Industrial Security. (Police Executive Research Forum) Obtains information about security systems in all 185 American seaports, and how public-private partnerships operate and focus on terrorism around ports. Lessons learned and partnerships that function at a high level will be analyzed to help guide law enforcement efforts in this area.

Date Created: November 8, 2007