National Homeland Security Initiative “Homeland Security Critical Infrastructure Watch Program”.
The mission of Homeland Security in part is to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure systems. This proposal directly and proactively solicits the involvement of the American public to become the eyes and ears of local, state and federal officials, toward enhancing the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure and vital systems.
Over the past few decades, thousands of neighborhood watch groups have been created in communities throughout the United States by citizens, local government and local police officials. Neighborhood watch groups exist in village, town, city and county neighborhoods. Citizens have embraced the concept and organization of neighborhood watch because it’s proven to be an effective tool in reducing crime and improving the quality of life in neighborhoods. Members of neighborhood watch groups routinely communicate with each other and convey common concerns. They routinely report their concerns to officials, typically about suspicious persons and vehicles, criminal activity and quality of life issues and hazards they observe. They hold periodic face to face meetings at schools, churches in garages and in backyards. The average American citizen cares deeply about the quality of life in their neighborhoods and will defend and protect it to keep their homes and loved ones safe.
The primary mission of the Homeland Security Critical Infrastructure Watch Program” is to enhance awareness and educate citizens at established neighborhood watch group meetings about the importance of homeland security and infrastructure. Where no established neighborhood watch organization or group exists, grass roots initiatives would be worked to organize and create one! In residential, commercial, city, suburban and rural areas, people reside, travel and work next to various modes of infrastructure, such as in transportation infrastructure (Aviation, Maritime, Mass Transit, Highway, Freight Rail and Pipeline), etc., etc. In all of these environments, this program seeks to create a proactive DHS-local government-citizen based DHS CIWP partnership. A developed and active national program, would serve the entire nation as an added ring or layer of security around various infrastructure. An ancillary benefit to the creation of this program is that it would also enlighten security officials about who and what actually exists in the immediate environs next to their infrastructure.
The HSCIWP program would seek to educate citizens on the importance that infrastructure has in our way of life and to our country’s economy. It would provide citizens with information about what constitutes suspicious behavior, and an awareness of the various types of hazards that various infrastructure systems may pose. I think when citizens are well informed about the system that is next to their homes or work, they will pay closer attention to it and more keenly monitor it to ensure its protection. This program encourages citizens to be proactive to mitigate possible threats and hazards by notifying appropriate officials through established protocols and procedures. It calls upon the average citizen to become active participants in the war on terrorism and homeland security. Lastly, the program could provide information via HSCIWP website link, and information on who they can contact for information, or where they can call to ask questions from their local DHS security offices.
Operationally, this program could be stood up with little or no cost, using existing personnel and equipment, promulgated through management directive after several important policy and procedural considerations were decided upon by senior leadership. Consistent with DHS Secretary J. Napolitano’s launching of a Public Engagement Website on February 8, 2010, this Program would align well within the Office of Homeland Security, toward increasing transparency, participation and collaboration with the public.
In closing, this program relies on the basic human instinct of safety and security. If properly cultivated, these emotions can become a powerful force to detect and deter crime and potential acts of terrorism. I think the American public has always been the first and last line of defense in all of America’s wars. They have already proven that in this war on 9/11. They are, in my opinion, an untapped force multiplier and the most powerful and important stakeholder of all.
Steven W. Hopkins
Assistant Federal Security Director
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Transportation Security Administration
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