State of Readiness

By Robert Elliott

Repercussions from Arizona’s November 2004 homeland security exercise are still being felt today as the state heads into its next series of preparedness measures, including TOPOFF (Top Officials), a national-level homeland security exercise that will take place in Phoenix and two other locales in 2007.

Modifications to Arizona’s homeland security procedures, based on lessons learned, have centered on communications, logistics, interaction with Mexican authorities, intelligence, and the scope of the practice runs.

Changes have included an upgrade in the pace and content of intelligence feeds from the state’s fusion center to law enforcement officials and first responders; a wider net of officials in the know about the practice runs and their ramifications; and a great step forward with interoperability, with the help of mobile communications units that are strategically placed around the state.

The exercises have already helped the state react when real-life events, such as floods and railway disasters, struck shortly after the exercises were acted out.

Robert Elliott is an assistant editor at Security Management



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