Written by: Elizabeth L. August
The aftermath of 9/11 certainly left its mark on law enforcement tactics in the United States. Shortly after the attacks, various agencies reached out to Muslim communities, creating partnerships to sniff out homegrown terrorist cells. These efforts have been largely successful. However, another commonly used police tactic threatens to erode these terror-fighting partnerships. As David A. Harris argues in the New York University Review of Law & Social Change, the use of informants to gather intelligence in mosques sends a conflicting message to Muslim communities. It is a blatant threat to the sanctity of a place of worship. This, combined with the “assumption of the risk” doctrine that has been applied to law enforcement’s use of informants, further threatens the positive relationships that have been built. The author argues that a mutually beneficial arrangement is achievable by limiting the use of informants, and bringing that limited use under the Warrant Clause of the Fourth Amendment. Reinforcing these community partnerships will benefit law enforcement, Muslim communities, and everyone else.
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The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.