How technology and investigations has changed since 9/11

Reporter: Russ McCaskey
John Yancey, resident-in-charge at Homeland Security (CREDIT: WINK News)

The world changed forever on 9/11 twenty years ago

As tragic as it was, it was also a wake-up call.

Since then, there has been a revolution when it comes to how we communicate and how law enforcement fights crime.

The attacks took the U.S. by surprise. It took away the country’s sense of security and revealed its vulnerabilities.

“So that was one of the big things, I think, that everyone became aware of, after the terrorist attacks of 9/11,” said John Yancey, resident-in-charge at Homeland Security, “There was really a breakdown in communications.”

In the aftermath, investigators determined various law enforcement agencies had pieces of information but no one group had all the pieces of the puzzle the could have prevented the attack.

“One of the big initiatives was to solve that problem by creating a system and a network where agencies were able to communicate better and to share information,” Yancey said.

The events of 9/11 led to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. The goal is to improve communication and share information from every level of government, city, county, state and federal. That led to the creation of the joint terrorism task force and the Intel fusion centers all designed to keep America safe.

Then technology exploded.

Sept. 11 was six years before the first iPhone came out. It was before social media. Now, cameras are everywhere including downtown Fort Myers.

In Fort Myers, the technology was used to find a man who passed fake money at an ice cream shop.

All this technology helps police but it also helps bad guys.

Hackers are using technology to attack American companies like the Colonial Pipeline. Darkside hackers used ransomware to cripple the company until a ransom was paid. Cybercriminals and terrorist organizations are a major focus for Homeland Security.

“The FBI and all of our partner agencies are constantly trying to come up with new, new ways to disrupt that and to address it on a global level,” Yancey said. “But it’s very challenging because of exactly what it is.”

There are success stories.

Last year, the Joint Terrorism Task Force disrupted more than 7,000 terrorism-related activities. Those stories don’t make the news because they are tragedies that never happen.

But with events unfolding in Afghanistan and 9/11, Homeland Security has work to do.

“We would just encourage everyone to be diligent and pay attention if they see anything to please report it to law enforcement,” Yancey said.


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