The Providence police chief, Col. Dean M. Esserman, said the federal government seemed unable to balance antiterror efforts and crime fighting. “Our nation, that I love, is like a great giant that can deal with a problem when it focuses on it,” said Colonel Esserman, who has been chief since 2003, when he was hired by Mayor David N. Cicilline. “But it seems like that giant of a nation is like a Cyclops, with but one eye, that can focus only on one problem at a time.”
“The support we had from the federal government for crime fighting seems like it is being diverted to homeland defense,” he added. “It may be time to reassess, not how to dampen one for the other, but how not to lose support for one as we address the other.”
The image of the state as cyclops, attacking only one mega-problem at a time, is consistent with my argument in Governing through Crime that crime became the template for all social problems after the 60s. What Chief Esserman and others seem to ignore is how much the war on terror plays to the same mentalities of citizenship (protect me!) and the same technologies of power (racial profiling) as the war on drugs did.