Homeland Security: What Does It Really Mean to the IACP?

Guest blogger: David McBath Retired Lieutenant Colonel, New York State Police; Director, North Country, New York, Crime Analysis Center; and Chair, IACP Committee on Homeland Security

The true definition of “homeland security” is very elusive, and it is difficult to find one that is universally accepted. In fact, a 2013 Congressional Research Service report described seven different definitions that were found during analysis of various federal strategic documents. Suffice to say that “homeland security” can and does mean different things to different organizations.

The goal of the IACP Committee on Homeland Security (CHS), which was formed in 2003, is to serve as the IACP’s central coordination point for homeland security information, issues, policy development, and program reviews. It also provides the IACP leadership with a consortium of expertise chartered to advise on a full spectrum of issues including, but not limited to, the review of draft homeland security policy documents and relevant legislative proposals.

As the IACP Terrorism Committee and the IACP Committee on Homeland Security both matured, it became obvious that there was overlap between the issues these two committees were discussing, and that coordination between the committees would be critical to eliminate duplication and ensure that their efforts complemented one another. The Terrorism Committee, which is chaired by a member of the FBI, is federally centric due in large part to the nature of the issues they discuss, which are generally tied to matters being discussed in classified national security circles. The CHS committee however, offers a framework for discussion and involvement at all unclassified levels. Generally, the CHS examines issues from three core areas: intelligence; information sharing; and policy. To overcome the issue of overlap with the Terrorism Committee, one common member currently participates in both committees, to deconflict and assist committee chairs in ensuring there is not duplication of effort.

In our committee meetings, and at the IACP Committee Chair meetings with the IACP Leadership, it is becoming readily apparent that many of the issues we are discussing in our committee related to homeland security in fact touch and are being discussed by other IACP committees. Whether it is the current “Going Dark” issue (also being looked at closely by the Police Investigative Operations Committee), the threats associated with Unmanned Aerial Systems (also being discussed by the Aviation Committee), or the concern about cybercrime and cyberattacks (also being discussed by the Computer Crime and Digital Evidence Committee), coordination of efforts between our committee and other IACP committees has become very important.

Following this theme of coordination, members of the Committee on Homeland Security were co-authors of articles in this month’s Police Chief Magazine. “Partnering to Protect the Homeland,” co-authored by one of our committee members and the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations Office, discusses how the local, state, and federal law enforcement communities must “cultivate critical partnerships” to share information and coordinate efforts to ensure the safety and security of the United States.

In addition, at our fall 2015 meeting, we started working collaboratively with the IACP Computer Crime and Digital Evidence (CCDE) Committee, which has done a significant amount of work discussing cybercrime and cyberattack issues. Also in this month’s issue, “Cyber Attacks: The Contemporary Terrorist Threat” is a collaborative article co-authored by a member from the CHS and a member from the CCDE Committee. It discusses the policy and operational concerns related to preparing and if necessary, responding, to a cyber event.

The Committee on Homeland Security will continue to work on matters related to securing our communities, either individually or collaboratively with other IACP committees where appropriate. The committee values feedback from the IACP membership, and is always looking for interested members to be involved in committee work. Any comments or questions about the committee and its work can be addressed to the IACP Committee Liaison, Brandon Gardner, at gardner@theiacp.org.

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