Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
First Advisor or Mentor
This paper examines the effectiveness of allocating funds to the nation’s police departments for the prevention of domestic terrorism, as is done annually through the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Grants Program. The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Administration, has distributed billions of dollars since its 2003 inception in equipment, software, and technology services based on the recipient police agencies’ own risk assessments of local terrorism. Much of the technology desired by police consists of systems of mass surveillance; this thesis focuses on implementations of surveillance video cameras or CCTV, license plate readers, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Drawing on academic studies, government watchdog reports, media coverage, police manuals, nonprofit publications, and sociological texts, research is guided by the hypotheses that mass surveillance is not suited for the prevention of terrorism and that grant recipients are requesting and implementing technology for purposes other than terrorism prevention. Using the Technology Policy Framework issued by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2014 to assess these implementations, findings include that an approach of surveillance policing is at odds with both the fundamental policy of policing as crime prevention and the principal tenet of maintaining citizens’ trust in the police. This thesis reveals a lack of empirical research on anti-terrorism measures and insufficient evidence that current surveillance methods prevent crime. Furthermore, due to the recognized low probability of terrorism, police departments are utilizing grant funds for investigative purposes as well as the everyday pursuits of retrieving stolen vehicles and monitoring traffic accidents.
McGinty, Erika, "Are DHS technology grants for local police departments an effective tool against terrorism?" (2017). CUNY Academic Works.