Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 3, 2012

A new blog for state and local homeland security professionals

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on April 3, 2012

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?”.

Here’s the abstract:

“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:

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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”.

But one thing is certain, law enforcement can and should learn something from the last year’s events. This article is a good start… As is this document.

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3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 3, 2012 @ 8:32 am

Sounds like a terrific new blog and source. And now for example that SCOTUS will allow strip search of arrested peaceful demonstrators arrested for whatever reason they need to be more careful than ever in asserting their rights “To Freedom of Assembly” under the Constitution.

Freedom and liberty are for each generation to preserve and protect. It is never without its costs including the ultimate sacrifice in some cases.

So as I have predicted a long hot summer with riots and civil disorders and an almost totally untrained police force and military force to deal with that fact it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

One thing that the OWS discovered is that the 1% were largely made up of entreprenuers not long term rentier class which dominates the top 10%. Many of these operate globally and with no capital flow controls can essentially flee the country without worry of effective seizure or regulation of their wealth or activities. Marc Rich, pardoned by President Clinton, is a good example. Or the Murdochs.

Several studies have revealed that the dominance of the energy industry in American life, unlike some other countries, has led to the current corporate socialism that dominates our political system. The law schools largely train defenders of corporate management. So essentially the legal system is deprived of any fundamental balance. As is the Judiciary.

Well the election of 2012 will be all about turnout and I predict a record low, not high, turnout with few minorities voting for whatever reason.

And at the bottom we still have no idea what the President thinks he will do to avoid a disasterous second term, as is the norm, or who exactly and what issues and policies a Romney Presidency will bring to power, joined by a Republican Senate and House.

As to the blog, I would argue EM is largely staffed with non-military, largely non-public safety personnel, but the brainpower and talents of those fleeing those disciplines that could well have prevented the creation of EM, and HS might still prevent its full evolution, have the brains, talents, and flexibility to understand the limitations of gun and badge solutions, and FIRE SERVICE solutions to what the 21st Century problems are for the communities that are probably not primary targets for terrorism.

An important year and one in which foreign policy may yet overshadow domestic events. EU will also have a long hot summer and I fully expect the London Olympics to be a major scene of civil unrest despite heroic efforts by Great Britain to prevent problems and despite a $500 million contribution to games security by the USA.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 3, 2012 @ 9:04 am

Read the article and just noting that Michigan HS is dominated by two realities–Law Enforcement personnel since Michigan is one of only two states [the other being New Jersey] where the head of EM is a police person. The second reality of course is that little outside of HS grants has driven the STATES and their local governments on HS. The STATES have NOT been laboratories of democracy when it comes to HS. The only question in my mind is whether the STATE HS types will eventually just be federal employees or contractors, no longer reporting to the Governor’s in reality. HS may be driving the death of federalism even as Congress and the Administration is not far behind.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 5, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

I have just learned that almost 90% of the FCO [federal coordination officer] cadre of 45 developed by
FEMA consists of those from outside FEMA with prior military, law enforcement, or fire service backgrounds. Almost none with backgrounds formal or informal in EM or up through the FEMA disaster response and recovery ranks. I am still mulling over the implications of this astounding statistics.

There does seem to be a consensus of some sort by the STATES and their local governments that those with Law Enforcement or Fire Service backgrounds at STATE or Local level are superior performers to those with military backgrounds.

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