What do homeland security professionals actually do when they are doing homeland security?
Jason Nairn asked this question a few years ago. He wrote what he learned in a master’s degree thesis titled “State and Local Homeland Security Officials: Who Are They and What Do They Do?”.
“Today, hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United States of America are offering prospective students homeland security certificates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees to educate a new cadre of homeland security officials. Yet, when asked, a practicing homeland security professional will likely admit that he/she has little idea what these students will be able to do when they graduate. The problem is that homeland security, in its current form, is not clearly defined and few understand what homeland security officials actually do, especially at the state and local levels. This research addresses this problem by asking state and local homeland security officials about who they are and what they do. By conducting interviews with state and local homeland security officials in practice, this research provides insight into the world of nonfederal homeland security officials, their activities and their backgrounds. It further provides a set of recommendations for developing educational, training and developmental programs that support homeland security officials at the state and local levels.”
Jason’s interest in what state and local homeland security professionals do continues. He recently started a blog called Homeland Security Roundtable. The blog:
is dedicated to fostering discussion, collaboration and networking among homeland security professionals [who] operate at the state and local levels…. [The blog is] seeking contributors [who] are current or former state or local homeland security professionals in responsible charge or individuals interested in state and local homeland security, such as academics interested in engaged and informed discussion.
With his permission, we reprint his first post and encourage interested state and local homeland security professionals to visit the Homeland Security Roundtable:
Occupy Groups Evolve, Begin a New Season and Explore New Roles
As across the country Occupy groups are beginning a new season of occupying, or not occupying, two questions come to mind:
1. How has the movement changed / evolved since it began?
2. What has law enforcement done to better prepare to manage this and other similar movements?
According to my observations of several midwestern Occupy groups at least two things are happening that speak to the evolution of the movement. First, Occupy groups all across the country are developing “Good Neighbor Policies” to deal with individuals and groups within the movement that are either disrespectful or hazardous to their members. The widespread adoption of this approach is indicative of the movement’s hierarchy, which begins in New York, and also the degree to which Occupy groups all across the country dealt with the infiltration of their encampments by the criminal and the under-served mentally-ill. Occupy meetings have had lively debates in the off-season about what to do about threats to their safety. The answer was call the police, which is interesting.
Local Occupy groups have been feeling around in the off-season for some other, fresher, issues to adopt that might revitalize numbers and refocus attention on the movement. This may be a regional phenomenon, as certain Occupy groups, such as the “Occupy the SEC” group in New York, are making substantive contributions to the conversation about our financial system which is at the core of the original movement. But Occupy groups in northern and midwestern states and Canadian cities have disbanded or broken up due to lack of focus, lack of interest, lack of resources, and lack of a reason to continue.
Debates have ensued over the prudence of losing focus on the 1%. Some Occupiers have suggested taking up hydraulic fracking, the controversial process of rock fracturing for oil and gas extraction that has become a boon for northeastern shale deposit owners. Indeed a “Stop Hydraulic Fracking” banner was unfurled by Occupy Lansing members at Michigan’s Capitol during a State of the State Address protest activity. Others have set their sights on “Occupy the Homes”-type scenarios where foreclosed homes can be occupied as a way to bring attention to the foreclosure crisis and back to the banks. One thing is certain, some of the energy of last summer has waned, and the movement can no longer support individual groups in every city in the country.
Another interesting question that stems from all of this is, “Is the Occupy Movement over when the tents come down?”
Another trend of note is that some Occupy groups are attempting to incorporate, seeking the protections and rights and permanence of corporate entities, mostly in the non-profit vein. Occupy Detroit, for instance, has a fiduciary. That is the United Auto Worker’s Union (UAW) which shares a joint bank account with Occupy Detroit. Occupy Detroit has investigated the possibilities of incorporating in order to access the resources necessary to expand their movement. These relationships cause one to wonder how the movement will navigate the conflicts of interest generated by working both against and with financial institutions and governments. Look for taglines like “We’re not just a protestor, we’re also a customer!”
It is as yet unclear how law enforcement has used the lull in action to learn the lessons of 2011. The Occupy Movement has an unpredictable relationship with the police. Many in the movement feel that the police are part of the 99%, and have consequentially been cooperative with authorities. Others, as stated in this article, note that the police are the “face of 1% power”.