Vigilance against terrorism carries added meaning in local police departments around the United States. They're the front line when an act of terror occurs.
That position creates a number of dilemmas. For instance, the extra hours spent guarding potential terrorist targets and responding to calls regarding possible bioterrorist or bomb attacks draw officers away from their normal anticrime duties.
This situation calls for careful planning. A number of mayors and police chiefs have asked that the FBI and other federal sources more readily share information about terrorist activities, so they can use their resources more effectively. To the extent possible, this request should be met.
Another resource local officials want is added funds to help pay terrorism-related police bills.
New York, which has had a huge police overtime bill, will clearly get special help. But Congress and state houses should be attentive to the needs of local police departments everywhere, and do what they can to offset added costs.