Sharing Best Practices
Cities and counties are at the forefront of forging best practices in the field of Homeland security. States are doing their best to circle the wagons within their jurisdictions among regions, counties and cities, as well as special districts. Their efforts complement those of the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Just six days after Sept. 11, 2001, the Attorney General directed the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) to take immediate steps to prevent future terrorist attacks against the Homeland. Each USAO District in the nation was charged with forming an Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC) to coordinate efforts to achieve this goal.
Since then, the efforts of all intergovernmental cooperation has been admirable. Every state has a branch of the USAO and a recently formed ATAC, and each office is pulling together the city, county, regional, state and federal resources. Periodic sessions involve public safety representatives from public and nonprofit agencies meeting to discuss precautions, safeguards and best practices.
Representatives from public, special district and nonprofit agencies typically meet to discuss topics of mutual interest relative to Homeland security for their respective jurisdictions and public service responsibilities. They include the federal, state and municipal governments; state and federal military; tribal nations, the U.S. Postal Service, regional transit authorities, special services districts and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
Representatives from federal agencies may include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Air Marshal Service; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Immigration and Customs Service; and the Transportation Security Administration. Other federal agencies involved in this process include the FBI, EPA, IRS, Marshal Service and Secret Service, as well as the Social Security Administration. Branches of the national military service are also included on these advisory councils.
State government agency representatives usually include public health and safety, Homeland security, emergency management, the Attorney General’s Office and other criminal justice administration agencies, as well as the National Guard. Other members often include representatives from public colleges and universities, as well as state and international airports.
Public safety representatives from other nonprofit agencies include independent water and utility districts, nuclear power plant companies, regional transit authorities and special service districts, as well as healthcare professionals from major private hospitals and universities.
During these meetings held by each State’s USAO’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, representatives discuss items of mutual concern related to Homeland security practices. These meetings provide an invaluable forum for the open exchange of ideas about mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery practices.
Precautions and safeguards center on components of the public infrastructure, including
train stations, both local and regional;
nuclear power plants;
municipal harbors and ports;
state and municipal airports;
national and state military installations;
tribal nation properties, such as major gambling casinos;
major post offices and mail handling centers;
the locations of private military contractors;
major intra- and inter-state transportation centers and corridors;
special districts and their facilities; and
other government properties with “target rich” environments.
This valuable exchange of ideas and information has helped protect our nation and its citizens during these uncertain times, in the process promoting state-of-the-art Homeland security practices within the respective states.
Roger L. Kemp is city manager of Vallejo, Calif., and is the author of Homeland Security: Best Practices for Local Government (ICMA, 2003). He holds a Ph.D. degree and is a graduate of the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, Harvard University.