The recent terrorist attacks in the London and Manchester have not prompted changes in U.S. counter-terrorism policy – and one group representing America’s cities laments such incidents are the “new normal.”
“There are no policy changes as a result of the recent attacks but we continually evaluate the threat environment,” Lucy Martinez, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said in an e-mail Monday.
The United Kingdom has seen a string of terrorist incidents in recent months.
Seven people were killed and dozens injured on Saturday when three assailants drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing others in the Borough Market.
The British capital endured a similar attack in March, when a terrorist ran over pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, near the houses of Parliament, and stabbed a police officer.
Four pedestrians and the officer were killed and more than 40 people were injured.
Last month in Manchester, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured dozens more at an Ariana Grande concert.
In London, Prime Minister Theresa May said “enough is enough,” and called for new initiatives to curb extremist behavior. In the United States, President Donald Trump urged courts uphold his ban on travel to this country from six predominantly Muslim nations.
In this country, David Jackson, communications director for the National Association of Counties, said he was unaware of any immediate policy or funding changes. Trump is seeking a 6.8 percent increase in homeland security funding in his budget for fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1.
Jackson said that these kinds of attacks on soft targets are “part of the new normal.” The group says it “unites” more than 3,000 county governments across the country.
“I think homegrown terror is on the mind of every responsible public safety official,” Jackson said.
Brian Egan, a spokesperson for the National League of Cities, which represents more than 1,600 cities, said the organization had not heard about changes in city counter-terrorism policy or requests for additional funding in the wake of the attacks.
And Dustin Sternbeck, director of communications for the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police, said there have been no changes to policy as a result of these attacks.
David Inserra, policy analyst for homeland security and cyber policy at the Heritage Foundation, said he was not surprised no policy changes were imminent.
“The reality is most of the activities and policies that we have to find suspected terrorists are ongoing,” he said.
Inserra said that the kinds of attacks seen in London are difficult to secure against and are increasingly popular because of the availability of the weapons used.
“A vehicle is something anyone can buy or rent or steal,” he said.
Inserra said the focus should be on intelligence gathering and cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement to identify “bad actors” before attacks happen.
“That’s the way you’re going to find these guys and stop them before they get in the car,” he said.
Contact: Anshu Siripurapu @anshusiripurapu 202-383-6009