The Adoption of Homeland Security Initiatives in Texas Police Departments: A Contextual Perspective

Date01 March 2021
Published date01 March 2021
Subject MatterArticles
The Adoption of Homeland
Security Initiatives in Texas
Police Departments:
A Contextual Perspective
Daniel M. Stewart
and Willard M. Oliver
The application of theory has been lacking in explaining the advent of homeland security in post–
September 11 policing. This study examines the utility of contingency and resource dependency
theories in understanding the adoption of homeland security initiatives in Texas police departments.
While attending state-mandated leadership training, Texas police chiefs (n¼208) were surveyed as
to structural and managerial changes implemented in their respective departments following
September 11, 2001. Particular attention was given to the number of homeland security-related
initiatives adopted, as reported by the participants. Using zero-inflated negative binomial regression,
support was found for resource dependency but not for contingency theory; that is, the extent of
homeland security initiatives was significantly associated with homeland security-related grant
receipts but not with experience regarding homeland security–related incidents or threat levels.
police organization/management, law enforcement/security, police processes, terrorism/homeland
Following the events of September 11, 2001, local police departments across the United States
began employing an array of tactics to bolster domestic security (Davis et al., 2004; Oliver,
2007). In some agencies, this merely involved changes to the distribution of patrol services—work
shifts were extended, days off were canceled, patrol levels were manipulated to target-harden poten-
tial vulnerabilities, and officers were encouraged to maintain vigilance for any suspicious activity
(Alexander & Mors, 2007). In other organizations, however, responses entailed more significant
strategic as well as structural changes, such as the creation of counterterrorism and intelligence units,
increased collaboration with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)-led joint terrorism task forces
(JTTF), and the adoption of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), just to name a few
University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA
Corresponding Author:
Willard M. Oliver, Sam Houston State University, 1806 Avenue J, Huntsville, TX 77340, USA.
Criminal Justice Review
2021, Vol. 46(1) 80-98
ª2014 Georgia State University
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0734016814551603
(Giblin, Schafer, & Burruss, 2009; Holden, Murphy, Brito, & Ederheimer, 2009; Randol, 2012;
Riley, Treverton, Wilson, & Davis, 2006; Stewart & Morris, 2009).
For many, the implementation of such initiatives was perceived to be a necessity at a time
wherein the responsibilities of terrorism prevention and disaster preparedness were thrust upon local
police departments under the larger rubric of homeland security. These new expected responsibil-
ities were evidenced in the rhetoric of politicians, policy makers, and academicians (see Bush,
2001; DeLone, 2007; Henry, 2002; Oliver, 2007). Further, professional law enforcement organiza-
tions across the country assembled conferences addressing the issue of how homeland security could
be achieved through community policing tactics already in place (Oliver, 2006). In short, it was
maintained that the working environment had significantly changed for local police, particularly for
those in or near large metropolitan areas, and the adoption of homeland security met the necessary
conditions to effectively operate in the new environment.
The federal government appeared to sanction a possible shift in policing philosophy as well, with
monies increasingly being allocated to state and local law enforcement through the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) instead of the previously relied on Office of Community Oriented Poli-
cing Services (COPS Office; Department of Homeland Security, 2007; Ludwig & Donahue, 2007).
Even the dollars that continued to be distributed through the COPS Office were gradually being tied
to some aspect of homeland security (COPS Office, 2003; Oliver & Stewart, 2004).
And in 2008,
counterterrorism outpaced overall federal spending on crime prevention by 15 billion (Office of
Management and Budget, 2009). This shift in the federal government’s strategic use of expenditures
has led some to speculate that financial incentives, rather than strategic, operational, and tactical
necessity, served as the impetus for change at the local level (Oliver & Stewart, 2004).
Using data collected from a representative sample of Texas police chiefs and employing zero-
inflated negative binomial regression (ZINB), this study attempts to identify factors related to the
implementation of post–September 11 homeland security-related initiatives. Specifically, variables
used as crude proxies for the constructs of the contingency and resource dependency theories are
examined for their utility in understanding organizational change in Texas police departments. Con-
tingency theory focuses on change as a product of an organization’s attempt to achieve specific
goals, while resource dependency theory reflects the manipulation of organizational characteristics
to obtain the necessary resources to survive. These two theories, which both fall under a perspective
that stresses the importance of environmental factors in explaining organizational change, have been
used to explain a variety of police developments over the last few decades, including the creation of
gang units (Katz, Maguire, & Roncek, 2002), police growth in the 1990s (McCarty, Zhao, & Ren,
2006), and changes in police core functions (Zhao, He, & Lovrich, 2003; Zhao, Lovrich, &
Robinson, 2001). Here, we will attempt to advance the literature by using the contingency and
resource dependency theories as a backdrop to discuss American policing in the post–September
11 environment.
The Responsibility of Homeland Security
Though national defense is oft-viewed as a public good primarily falling under the exclusive pur-
view of the federal government (de Rugy, 2010; Gold, 1999; Stuntz, 2002), it has been recognized
that the homeland security apparatus will always be triggered by a local event followed by an initial
local response wherein law enforcement plays a critical role (Bratton, Kelling, & Eddy, 2007; Inter-
national Association of Chiefs of Police, 2005). Major events, whether manmade or natural, how-
ever, will undoubtedly arise that overwhelm local agencies, requiring assistance from
neighboring jurisdictions, the state, and/or federal government. In recognition of the role of local
and state authorities in homeland security, President George W. Bush released the National Strategy
for Homeland Security in 2002 as a blueprint for strengthening defenses and reducing terrorist
Stewart and Oliver 81

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