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Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Editor-in-Chief: Renda-Tanali, Irmak, D.Sc.

Managing Editor: McGee, Sibel, Ph.D.

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Evaluating the Societal Response to Antiterrorism Measures

Kevin R Grosskopf
  • University of Florida
Published Online: 2006-06-23 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1547-7355.1170

Emergency managers, urban planners and building designers have embraced antiterrorism measures to create a human environment that is difficult to attack, resilient to the consequences of terrorist attack, and protective of its populations and assets. However, quick to adopt a "guns, guards and gates" posture following 911, it has become apparent that many antiterrorism measures may actually intensify and reinforce public perceptions of vulnerability and fear. Two studies conducted by the University of Florida in 2004-05 evaluated public perceptions of security measures within the contexts of traditional crime and terrorism. When presented with images of interior and exterior building spaces, respondents felt 3-6 times less vulnerable to theft, battery and sexual assault in areas having a visible security presence. Only a minority of respondents considered areas with a highly visible security presence to be unfriendly (6%), uninviting (12%) or uncomfortable (13%). In the context of terrorism however, respondents viewed many of the same visible security measures with suspiciousness, tenseness and fear. Such responses may be caused by a comparative lack of understanding of the nature and predictability of terrorism and a reluctance to accept measures that serve to reinforce feelings of vulnerability or danger.

Keywords: antiterrorism; environmental design; prevention; security; safety; public perception; symbolism; fear; anxiety; mental health

About the article

Published Online: 2006-06-23

Citation Information: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, ISSN (Online) 1547-7355, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1547-7355.1170. Export Citation

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