More state and local law enforcement officers are getting top-secret FBI clearances to access sensitive federal information in terrorism cases than at anytime since Sept. 11, 2001, USA Today reports. Clearances granted to members of the FBI’s network of regional terrorism task forces jumped to 878 in 2009, up from 125 in 2007, showing intensified attention to domestic terror threats. Clearances granted to other law enforcement officers and contractors soared to 945 from 364.
As of last month, the number of clearances this year were on pace to equal or surpass last year’s totals, with 557 granted to task force members and 587 to other officers. Police officials said the clearance program, once criticized as slow to provide access to key information about emerging threats and terror investigations, has added needed intelligence to recent terror inquiries from Colorado to New York. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis says some of the agency’s officers with clearance authority assisted in the fast-moving May investigation into the unsuccessful bombing in New York’s Times Square. Eight Boston officers have clearance, up from two or three in 2001. Last year, New York police worked with federal counterparts to thwart an attempted assault on the city’s transit system by terror operatives with ties to Denver.