Survey of 382 U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies Shows Far Greater Concern about Anti-Government Extremists than about Islamic Terrorists

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
(photo: John Locher, AP)

Ask a cop what kind of extremist they’re most concerned about and the answer is likely to be those opposed to the government, not Muslim terrorists.


A survey of 382 law enforcement agencies from around the United States asked officers to list the main violent extremist threat their agency faces.


Anti-government extremists were listed more than any other by far: 73.8%. Al Qaeda-inspired extremists came in a distant second, at 39.3%.


“Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face,” the survey’s authors, Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer, wrote in their report (pdf).


Kurzman, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and associate professor of the Practice, Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, added that law enforcement “perceive violent extremism to be a much more severe threat nationally than the threat of violent extremism in their own jurisdictions.”


The survey also revealed that a large majority of law enforcement agencies rank the threat of all forms of violent extremism in their own jurisdictions as moderate or lower (3 or less on a 1-5 scale).


Coming in at third and fourth place as the most violent threats that law enforcement face were, respectively, environmental extremism (33%) and racist extremism (24.3%).


The researchers conducted the survey in 2014 in conjunction with the Police Executive Research Forum.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Law Enforcement Assessment of the Violent Extremism Threat (by Charles Kurzman and David Schanzer, Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security) (pdf)

In Post-9/11 World, Has U.S. Failed to Address the Rise of Non-Islamic Terrorism? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Law Enforcement Personnel Now View Sovereign Citizens as Bigger Terrorist Threat than Islamic Extremists (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Homeland Security Dept. Slashes Investigations of Non-Islamic Terrorism (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

See all 41 comments


Deborah Johnston 9 years ago
You have got to be kidding!! How many people have the terrorists killed??? How many people have the anti-government killed???? Case closed!!! This is straight from the pit of hell!!!
Silas Dogood 9 years ago
Of course they think this. It is what the government is brainwashing them to think. Also they know that they themselves are part of a government that's acting more like thugs and criminals every day. Why else would a government fear its own citizens?
SNNNNN 9 years ago
"They are sworn to protect us. And they take their profession seriously. " You really need to stop the badge licking and read up on the Supreme Court rulings. The police have NO obligation to protect...anyone. Furthermore, I am sure the folks who watched their loved ones being, tazered, shot and/or beaten to death thought the same thing. Hope its not you next....
Recce1 9 years ago
I wonder how the survey was worded. Are police more worried about supposed far Right or far Left anti-government race based extremism? I dare say the the vast majority of anti-government extremism has been the riots in places like Ferguson, Baltimore, New York. Then there was the Occupy Wall Street violence, Oscar Grant riots, Manuel Diaz protest violence, Trayvon Martin protest violence, and the Kimini Gray riots. I wonder if they can name just one incident of far Right anti-government riots in the last 10 years.
hopinnow 9 years ago
So,huge percentage worried about anti government extremist, but when asked about their own districts they said they rank the threat at THREE on a scale of 1-5? Does this make any sense
Silent Hammer 9 years ago
As was said, who 'DID' this survey, and where was it 'done?' Here in Alabama, we who might be "liberally" identified as "anti-government" are also family members who respect law and order. We realize that the patrolman, sheriff and officer are also family members, who are sworn to help us. They are sworn to protect us. And they take their profession seriously. This report is less than hogwash.
toosmarttovoteGOP 9 years ago
"you have to wonder about law enforcement that sees the taxpayer who supports the gov't as the REAL problem." What one wonders is why this drivel was even posted. bob, had you actually read the article (OR) the headline) you would have noted that their greatest concern is for ANTI-GOVERNMENT EXTREMISTS: not the "the taxpayer who supports the gov't". Get a grip.
Mike Kevitt 9 years ago
What violence has even been attempted by 'anti-gvt.' extremists in the last 15 yrs.? All the other threats are considered 'lesser' because they're only against the prevailing version of today's concept of 'gvt. by law'. 'Anti-gvt.' extremists are against today's concept of 'gvt. by law', not just today's version of it. That makes them a more fundamental, a more RADICAL opposition to the status quo. The IS can't match that. The IS is only against the prevailing version of today's concept of 'gvt. by law'. Despite their violence, the changes the IS would force are less earth shaking than those proposed by 'anti-gvt.' extremists.
JAO 9 years ago
More Bull Shi*. I was a cop for almost 40 years, that survey is bull.
dprato 9 years ago
Since they have not defined radical extremists, the only thing I can say is that they have nothing to worry about from the average American Citizen providing they protect and serve as oppose to intimidate, bully or infringe on our Constitutional Rights. In Conn and NY 85% and 95% of those people owning the alleged assault rifles refused to register them and the government did nothing to enforce their mandate. I think that speaks volumes. So if the police stick to protect and serve I believe they will have no serious problems with the public. If they go beyond that there are 100 million armed American Citizens who I believe are not going to put up with any nonsense like martial law or other forms of repression of the population. Treat people with respect and you will be treated with respect.

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