Last year, David Headley, like many fathers, took his children to a Chicago park, says the Chicago Tribune. He ran his children through military drills, including maneuvers such as rolling into a shooting position. Observations – by an officer who had received counterterrorism training – became part of the case that was built against Headley, who four months later was charged in the 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai and with planning attacks in Denmark.
Authorities say the case highlights a dramatic shift in local policing: Chicago police are no longer just tracking drug and gang organizations but also terrorists bent on launching attacks here or abroad. New investigative teams have been created to generate tips about potential threats and also investigate them. Chicago has an officer permanently assigned to Washington for counterterrorism, and thousands of others are trained to spot terrorists, getting briefings on organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. Chicago cops are working with other law enforcement agencies as part of a local FBI task force. Chicago police took a leadership role in an investigation that led to Headley’s guilty plea last March. “That was a prime example of how the Chicago Police Department has become an integral force against terrorism,” said Patrick Daly, the chief of the department’s counterterrorism and intelligence section. “We worked on this investigation 24/7.”