She told the police chiefs in the room that DHS research into countering violent extremism (CVE) has discovered common behaviors, trends, and tactics, which she hopes DHS can package together as a training curriculum for local police. That curriculum, according to Napolitano, is currently being tested at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
Another part of the architecture is the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI), which DHS and the Department of Justice have partnered to roll out nationwide in the near-term future. The goal of the initiative is to get suspicious activity reports (SARs) from local police and community members digested and analyzed to uncover activities that may signal a terrorist activity.
The NSI connects to the final part of the architecture: DHS’s “See Something, Say Something” campaign. A significant problem, according to Napolitano, in detecting terrorist activity is an unaware or complacent citizenry.
“How do you get a person on the street involved in their own security?” she said. “How do we get people on the street to understand that security is not just a governmental responsibility?”
“See Something, Say Something” was the answer. Since July, the campaign has been rolled out at sporting events, like March Madness; transit systems, like the DC Metro; and large retailers, like WalMart, to urge citizens to report behavior-based suspicious activities to law enforcement.
According to Napolitano, all these components work together to protect the country from further terrorist attacks.
“‘See Something, Say Something; SAR; Fusion centers; CVE curricula and training: all going together to make sure we have the homeland security foundation that recognizes the evolving nature of the threat and the fact that the threat is not geographically limited in our nation anymore,” she said.
Napolitano also connected the homeland security architecture to the fiscal straits facing state and police budgets due to the recession, arguing it should make policing more cost-effective.
“One of the ways that we can force-multiply is by having better risk-based, intelligence-based policing out in our neighborhoods and out in our communities,” she said. “That’s really a way to make the maximum use of the very, very valuable law enforcement asset, that manpower, that technology that we have out on the street.”
That said, Napolitano told the police chiefs that they must go out and talk to their elected leaders and stress that counterterrorist policing capabilities are not a luxury, but a necessity.
“These are core competencies that should be built into your budget from the outset not as an add-on at the end, even though these are relatively, recently developed techniques and tactics,” she said.
♦ Photo of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano courtesy of IACP