WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn, and Ranking Member Susan Collins R-Me., Tuesday heard testimony about the growing threat from homegrown violent Islamist extremism in the U.S. and praised four local police departments for their proactive approach to countering this threat

At a hearing entitled, “The Role of Local Law Enforcement in Battling Violent Islamic Extremism,” the Senators also said that the four local law enforcement agencies that were represented should serve as models for other cities around the nation and that the federal government should provide more direction and resources to make that happen.

“You took this on at the local level and are carrying out a national function in doing so,” Lieberman said. “You’ve set a national standard and we’re going to make sure the rest of the country catches up to you… It is crucial that these and other local efforts be linked together so clues to potential terrorist attacks are not lost through jurisdiction silos but are shared by local departments nationwide through shared intelligence databases, fusion centers and Joint Terrorism Task Forces that can connect the dots with information gathered at all levels – and geographies – of law enforcement. One of the major post-9/11 reforms was to break down the intelligence stove pipes. It is critically important that we come together and share information… We will push the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to give more support to these self starters.”

The Senators also heard testimony about the critical role the Internet plays in radicalizing violent Islamist extremists in the U.S. and heard recommendations for countering violent Islamist ideology that can be found on-line.

“The rising threat of homegrown terrorism magnifies the importance of local law enforcement in our efforts to protect our country from attacks,” noted Senator Collins. “While America has done a great deal to prevent terrorists from entering the country, we often forget that our local and state police often have the best opportunity to prevent a terrorist attack. From a beat cop noticing something amiss in an alley, to a community relations officer speaking with a local mosque’s Imam, local police are truly on the front line.”

Witnesses from the New York City Police Department discussed their recent, groundbreaking report on Islamist extremism and witnesses from Los Angeles, Kansas City, Mo., and Miami/Dade County discussed their innovative approaches to counter the threat of homegrown Islamist radicalization.

This is the fifth HSGAC hearing this year to examine the threat of Islamist terrorism. Witnesses included Lawrence H. Sanchez, Assistant Commissioner of the NYPD and Mitchell D. Silber, Senior Intelligence Analyst, NYPD; Los Angeles Police Department’s Deputy Chief Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau Michael Downing, Miami-Dade Police’s Homeland Security Bureau Major Michael Ronczkowski, and Kansas City Police Department Major Thomas Dailey.