Cops and spooks: The role of police in counterterrorism

David H. Bayley*, David Weisburd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

56 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the role of full-service or general-duties policing in combating terrorism. In particular we are concerned with whether the counterterrorism activities of covert intelligence gathering and disruption are playing a larger role in the activities of police agencies today, and if so to what extent such a role is impacting the services that police are expected to provide in Western democracies. We begin with a comparison of national structures for conducting counterterrorism in Western democracies. Then, we explore the impact of counterterrorism post 9/11 on policing and specify specific factors that affect the strength of its impact. Finally, drawing heavily on information from the United States and Israel, the chapter discusses arguments for and against the involvement of police in covert terrorism prevention. Overall, we conclude that general duties police agencies should be cautious in adopting a strong counterterrorism function.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationTo Protect and To Serve
Subtitle of host publicationPolicing in an Age of Terrorism
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780387736846
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


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