But as CBS News Correspondent Bob Orr reports, in all three cities budgets are tight, federal help is lacking and there's not enough manpower to match the threat.
Resources must be focused on the most likely targets. In Seattle, police divers are training to detect underwater explosives. Giant container ships and crowded commuter ferries are potential targets.
Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske expects to get more than $11 million from the department of Homeland Security for new equipment and training.
But, he's lost 25 officers to budget cuts since Sept. 11. And with no money for replacements, the chief says Seattle is not as secure as it should be.
"We'll have more training and more equipment, but this is a very labor intensive business without additional bodies to support it," says Kerlikowske. "It will not have changed."
Detroit's focus is on the border, one of the busiest crossings in America and a potential gateway for terrorists.
While customs agents police the Ambassador Bridge and the Windsor Tunnel, Detroit still waits for $12 million in federal money to cover homeland security needs.
Officers on the beat must do more with less.
"You always took it serious, but you take it a little more serious (now), where any call could be your last call," says officer Marcus Harris.
The recent blackout put Detroit through a terrorism test run. Police and fire communications failed.
"We still have a ways to go with respect to training, critical infrastructure needs and technology needs, but that's all a part of why we need more funding from the federal government," says Detroit administrator Derrick Miller.
Like Seattle, Baltimore is a magnet for tourism. Its port, home to chemical plants, oil storage facilities, oil tankers and soon cruise ships, is a target for terrorists.
"Thousands of people, thousands of flammable liquids, thousands of hazardous chemicals and recreation individuals all in one confined area," says Baltimore Fire Chief William Goodwin.
Yet, mayor Martin O'Malley says Baltimore has only gotten $6 million in homeland grants and needs at least $20 million more.
"All the swagger and bravado coming out of Homeland Security does not mean that any of my police are better protected or better informed," says O'Malley.
Two years after Sept. 11, cities and their front-line troops are more aware. But, vulnerabilities will remain until federal monies are better targeted to those places facing the highest risks.