Commentary

Emerging Homeland Security Issues – A 2017 Panel Review

by Joseph J. Leonard Jr. -

The 2017 Emerging Homeland Security Issues panel met in December to discuss the current challenges of today’s threats, review risk management practices, assess means of strengthening interagency relationships, and to consider future resource requirements.

Explosives & Handheld Trace Detection

by Ryan Holland & Mark Fisher -

The threat of homemade explosives (HMEs) is not new. From the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, to the “shoe bomber,” London underground bombings, “underwear bomber,” and attacks in Paris and Brussels in the 2000s, the threat is ever changing. Not only do post-incident crime scenes present danger to responders until secondary devices have been ruled out, but also makeshift laboratories where the bombs are made. Handheld explosives trace detection (ETD) equipment can help responders quickly determine on-scene threats, like Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) and react appropriately and expediently.

Making Schools Safe & Secure – A Local to National Effort

by Mary Filardo -

This article explores the meaning of safe and secure schools, shows where current schools are falling short, and offers policy prescriptions, pointing to the pending federal infrastructure package as a unique opportunity to make an important down payment to secure a safer and better future for the nation’s students.

Plan, Inform, Practice – Factoring in Resilience

by Catherine L. Feinman -

Modern communities are faced with myriad threats, risks, and hazards that require careful planning, significant information gathering, and actionable preparedness practices. Since incidents range in scale and scope, it is important to not only examine the factors related to the type of incident, but also examine the factors related to specific agencies and organizations.

Preparedness Can Be Easy

by Raynika Battle -

For more than a decade, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) statistics have shown that, although there has been some improvement, not enough people are prepared for emergencies and disasters. However, publicly available resources are educating community members and helping them prepare – one month at a time – for potential disasters that are likely to affect them.

Preparedness & Resilience Without the Hype

by Catherine L. Feinman -

As another calendar year comes to a close, agencies and organizations are reflecting on the events of 2017: hurricanes, mass shootings, wildfires, critical infrastructure failures, disease outbreaks, cyberattacks, and other incidents that have strained local resources. DomPrep’s readers are continually challenged to be prepared for, respond to, and mitigate the consequence of disasters. When a crisis occurs, the gaps in planning and response are forced into the spotlight. However, when disasters are diverted, the success often goes unseen. This edition of the DomPrep Journal recognizes and thanks all those who work behind on the firing line and behind the scenes everyday to make their communities safer and more resilient through their activities, informational resources, and recommendations.

The Presidency & Control of Nuclear Weapons

by Jerome H. Kahan -

“The whole point of U.S. nuclear weapons control is to make sure that the president – and only the president – can use them if and whenever he decides to do so,” said Alex Wellerstein, a historian of nuclear weapons at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in an article published on 1 December 2016. As presidents and circumstances change, it is important to understand presidential authority and legislation as they relate to nuclear weapons.

Emerging Threats to Rail Infrastructure: Part I, Freight

by Joseph Trindal -

There is a desire for some bad actors to target rail systems, especially the hazardous materials freight rail network. This threat underscores the need for the rail transportation industry to maintain and strengthen partnerships with federal, state, and local authorities. With over 140,000 miles of infrastructure, there are difficult security challenges. For example, the U.S. rail system moves over 1.8 billion tons originated/year of freight, petroleum, chemicals, and military assets, making it a vital lifeline. A recent roundtable examined current issues and progress regarding this important topic from government and private sector experts.

Remember the Past, While Imagining the Future

by Catherine L. Feinman -

The imaginations of television and filmmakers are often used to create futuristic worlds, with technologies that can be used as tools or as threats. Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are one such technology that is now off the screen and often seen in the sky. Like “The Jetsons” of the early 1960s, the airways offer many opportunities to transport people and objects from one place to another. With increased travel and transport, though, emergency preparedness, response, and resilience professionals must address the potential benefits of this technology as well as regulations and enforcement issues that could hinder daily and disaster operations. In a worst-case scenario, terrorists could conduct attacks using UAS equipped with explosives, weapons, or dispersal devices for chemical, biological, or radiological materials.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems – On the Way to the Jetsons’ Era

by Charles J. Guddemi -

Debuting in 1962, “The Jetsons” depicted the family of the future, with people movers, tube travel, vehicles that folded up into brief cases for parking purposes, home computers, internet, microwave ovens, CT x-ray for medical purposes, cellphones, and speed limits of up to 2,500 miles per hour. Fast-forward to today, as roadways become more congested, one logical alternative is to go up. Unmanned aircraft systems bring the nation a step closer to the Jetson way of life.