Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 6,000 state and local police officers have been granted access to classified material involving terrorist threats, says USA Today. The information sharing, which is overseen by the FBI, has been held up as a model of cooperation by law enforcement. It is not clear whether giving local officials access to classified information has provided them with a direct link to terrorism suspects.
Even so, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt, an early critic of the information-sharing program because of delays in getting secret clearances, says the access is forging closer bonds between local police and the FBI. The FBI has grown increasingly dependent on local police to assist in terrorism investigations. Assistant FBI Director Louis Quijas acknowledges that much of the information being made available to police may have little value because it may not be specific to where the officers are. Since the London transit bombings last month, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Police Chief Darrel Stephens says the FBI has provided a stream of guidance on the vulnerability of transit systems.