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A Nation Engaged: Months after terror, police chief leery of political rhetoric

Chief Jarrod Burguan talks to A Martinez
Chief Jarrod Burguan talks to A Martinez
Austin Cross
Chief Jarrod Burguan talks to A Martinez
Take Two's A Martinez talks to Chief Burguan
Austin Cross
Chief Jarrod Burguan talks to A Martinez
Outside of the San Bernardino Police Station
Austin Cross
Chief Jarrod Burguan talks to A Martinez
Memorial outside of San Bernardino's Inland Regional Center, the site of the December terror attack.
Austin Cross
Chief Jarrod Burguan talks to A Martinez
The site of the shootout between law enforcement and suspected terrorists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.
Austin Cross
Chief Jarrod Burguan talks to A Martinez
Chief Burguan and A Martinez
Austin Cross

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The U.S. is just weeks away from the next presidential election, and a raft of local contests. As part of  the NPR series 'A Nation Engaged',  KPCC examines some of the key issues facing the next president of the United States.  This week, the focus is on America's place in the world, and how federal policies impact at the local level.

France. Belgium. Bangladesh. Saudi Arabia. Orlando, Florida. All scenes of terror attacks around the globe in the past 12 months. Southern California has also experienced terrorism firsthand. 

On December 2,  2015, husband and wife Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik targeted a holiday gathering at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. 14 people were killed. 22 were injured.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan was at the helm of the department that day. He and more than 300 officers were among the first to arrive at the Center.

from Take Two on Vimeo.

The November election comes just one month before the one-year anniversary of the attacks. Since the killings, homeland security has taken on a new political timbre, as fears of self-radicalized extremists continue to rise.

Chief Burguan says that, in the days that followed the attack on San Bernardino, he received ample support from federal law enforcement and Congressman Pete Aguilar. When asked about the support he feels that officers have received from the Obama Administration in recent years, however, his tone changes. 

"I think that law enforcement, in general, feels that there have been some challenges with the current administration," Burguan says. "We've had some flashpoint incidents that have happened in the last couple of years in this country in police-community relationships that have not been helped by things that have been said in Washington and the current administration — and words are powerful."

In California's 31st congressional district, which encompasses the city of San Bernardino, Democratic incumbent Pete Aguilar and Republican challenger Paul Chabot have made terror policies a cornerstone of their campaigns. 

Chabot, a naval veteran, favors a strong-handed approach, as is evident by the bumper stickers offered by his campaign. A tactic that Chief Burguan called, "political silliness."

Congressional hopeful Chabot says the stickers make a statement.

"There is no silliness about terrorism in this country," Chabot says. "It is a direct symbol that this country is unable to protect the American people, so we've got to arm our local police to give them the military tactics and training and equipment that my opponent has fought to take away from them," he says. 

Congressman Aguilar, who was unavailable for comment, directed Take Two to his past writings on the subject. 

Take Two's A Martinez continues the conversation with Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corporation, with his take on how America's counterterrorism policies play out at the local level.

Series: A Nation Engaged

NPR and KPCC's coverage of critical issues facing the nation before November's presidential election. The stories seek to build a nationwide conversation around these issues, focusing on a specific question each time.

Read more in this series and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on Facebook.

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