By Meredith Ward, Guest Blogger; Manager, Media and Legislative Affairs, IACP
Bart R. Johnson became executive director of the IACP on December 5, 2011. Prior to joining us, he worked his way up through the ranks to serve as a colonel in the New York State Police before heading over to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) where, most recently, he served as principal deputy undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis (I&A).
Just recently, he received the National Intelligence Superior Service Medal from the Director of National Intelligence for his “vision, strong leadership, and being instrumental in breaking down barriers to secure our homeland,” especially as it relates to establishing the National Network of Fusion Centers.
Meredith: Bart, you’ve been at the IACP just five months now. How has it been so far?
Executive Director Johnson: My experiences so far have been great; I feel a great sense of excitement within the IACP and with where we’re heading. When I came here, I was lucky that there was such a strong foundation in place. The rich history of this association is unmatched. This is why I’m looking forward to exploring new opportunities, partnerships, and means of reaching out to our membership (like through this blog!).
I’m also grateful that the IACP staff has been supportive in helping me to learn about the full scope of this organization. I’ve been involved in two productive Board of Officers and Executive Committee meetings, and the members of those bodies have been supportive as I adapt to my new role. I would also be remiss if I didn’t specifically mention President McNeil–Walt has been an outstanding supporter of me, the IACP staff, and the organization as a whole.
Meredith: Having served as a beat cop and as the second-highest ranking official in the DHS I&A, you have a unique perspective on information and intelligence sharing. Why should state, local, and tribal police chiefs/law enforcement buy into the intelligence and information sharing model?
Executive Director Johnson: In the years since 9/11, I believe we’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s more that we need to do. I lived in New York on 9/11 and lost two very good friends of mine who started out with me in Peekskill [New York]–one a law enforcement official and the other a firefighter. There are so many of us who lost friends and loved ones on 9/11, and so we have a personal and professional commitment to preventing and fighting terrorism.
This is why it is so important that information and intelligence flows among state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the federal government–most especially as it relates to countering terrorism. Law enforcement officers who are out on patrol each and every day need the best information and tools available to them, as well as training on indicators, warnings, and mechanisms to ensure they recognize, respond to, and report potential threats.
Meredith: At DHS I&A, your work focused on fusion centers and the important information sharing hubs that they are intended to be. Why is this important to state, local, and tribal law enforcement?
Executive Director Johnson: As evidenced by the rise in homegrown violent extremism, the threat to our nation is changing–it is here within our borders, and law enforcement must be prepared for how that threat may evolve. This is why the Fusion Center Network is so important and has played a big role in the progress we have made. These fusion centers are receiving, in near real time, information and intelligence regarding tactics, techniques, and procedures that terrorists are using. They are fully engaged, and part of their job is to make sure that state, local, and tribal law enforcement is also fully engaged and updated on the information and the intelligence they receive.
I am a firm believer that hometown security is really homeland security and, through our Homeland Security and Terrorism committees, the IACP will continue to play a significant role in this critical effort.
Meredith: Finally–and now this is technically the fourth question–anything else you’d like the membership to know about you?
Executive Director Johnson: What I learned in my 32-year law enforcement career (and four years with the federal government) is that law enforcement is a noble and honored profession. There are men and women out there each and every day who put their lives on the line to protect the homeland. I will always be cognizant of that and will apply my past experiences here. I’m proud that the IACP always has and will continue to be an advocate for law enforcement, and I will make certain this continues through my tenure.
For more on Meredith’s interview with Executive Director Bart R. Johnson, subscribe to updates to the IACP Blog by typing your email address in the box above the Sign Me Up button on the upper right of your screen. Then, click Sign Me Up!