Posted by Senior Counselor Alice Hill
On December 31, 2012, President Barack Obama proclaimed January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to recognize the vital role we can play in eliminating all forms of human trafficking. And as we begin a new year, we also mark the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, a powerful reminder to rededicate ourselves to bringing an end to slavery and human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a horrendous crime and at DHS, we are committed to doing all we can to prevent it. Every year, we initiate hundreds of investigations and make arrests, while providing support for victims through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Victim Assistance Program. To protect victims, we also provide immigration assistance in the form of Continued Presence, T visas and U visas.
DHS also works to educate state and local law enforcement and members of the public on how to identify victims of human trafficking and report the crime. Through the Blue Campaign, the Department’s unified voice in combating human trafficking, DHS works in collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations to protect the basic right of freedom, and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.
In October, Secretary Napolitano joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman to announce a new partnership among DHS, the Department of Transportation and Amtrak to broaden our network of partners in our fight to prevent human trafficking. Amtrak is using training and awareness materials developed by the Blue Campaign to educate all of its employees, including Amtrak Police Department officers, on potential indicators of human trafficking.
We further broadened our network of committed partners last fall when Secretary Napolitano joined INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble in France to sign a joint statement reaffirming a mutual commitment to combating human trafficking. Broadening our network of domestic and international partners is just one way to help us identify and rescue victims, and help bring perpetrators to justice.
While we pay close attention today and this month, we must continue this fight every day. I encourage you to get involved by learning about the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it to the proper authorities.
Everyone has a role in identifying and combating human trafficking, and together we can help protect innocent victims and prevent this form of modern-day slavery.
Resilience and modernization are essential to sustaining and enhancing critical infrastructure. For these systems, that means thinking differently about how we build and enhance our infrastructure so that we prepare for potential threats and a constantly evolving environment. One of our missions at DHS is to raise awareness of critical infrastructure protection by conducting exercises with government and infrastructure owners and operators as well as gathering and analyzing data from incidents to improve planning and response efforts going forward.
A safe, secure, and resilient infrastructure where the American way of life can thrive is a shared responsibility. It will take government, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and the general public all working together. As 2012 and Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience Month come to a close, we encourage all of our partners to reaffirm their commitment to strengthen, protect and modernize our nation’s critical infrastructure in the New Year.
Looking ahead to 2013, we will continue working together to advance our nation's most pressing short and long-term infrastructure needs, including enhancing the resiliency of the electrical grid, upgrading our water and transportation infrastructure, and strengthening the security of our chemical and nuclear facilities.
Find out how you can get involved in the New Year to help keep our nation safer and more secure for all of us. For more information about the DHS’s critical infrastructure protection and resilience programs, training, and resources visit http://www.dhs.gov/criticalinfrastructure.
Yesterday, I had the distinct privilege of presenting Senator Joseph Lieberman with the Department of Homeland Security’s Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his work to strengthen our homeland and his efforts to ensure the safety and security of the American people.
The Department of Homeland Security has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face. Our duties are wide-ranging, but our goal is clear - keeping America safe. Senator Lieberman has never lost sight of that.
As a dedicated public servant, Senator Lieberman has always been an important voice and a leading thinker on homeland security issues. Immediately after the attacks on September 11, 2001, he helped establish the 9/11 Commission. Senator Lieberman’s extensive knowledge of existing homeland security efforts and his understanding of how our country was changed on 9/11 made him integral to the creation of DHS the following year.
Thanks in great part to Senator Lieberman’s leadership and commitment to the security of our nation, DHS and the homeland security enterprise have continued to mature and strengthen over the past ten years – and will continue into the future.
I am confident that, in the years to come, Senator Lieberman will continue to contribute and serve in meaningful ways that will have a positive impact on our Nation. On behalf of the Department, I thank him for his leadership and his lifetime of service.
Thanks to the hard work of DHS employees, we reached a significant milestone this year with the release of the DHS Annual Financial Report. For the first time in its history, DHS received a “qualified audit opinion” on all five statements of financial management. This achievement is a result of our ongoing commitment to instituting sound business practices to safeguard taxpayer dollars.
In 2012, Secretary Janet Napolitano established a goal of obtaining an opinion on a full-scope financial statement audit (i.e., all financial statements). All DHS components supported this goal by improving financial reporting and working to eliminate material weaknesses and significant deficiencies. Together, we have built strong policies, processes, and controls to ensure consistent operations.
Over the past four years, we have made significant improvements to Departmental management, developing and implementing a comprehensive, strategic management approach to enhance Department-wide maturation and integration. This year’s qualified audit opinion is an important milestone and a pivotal step towards increasing transparency and accountability for the Department’s resources.
To read more, click here.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) continues to work on developing technologies that will bolster our capabilities to detect potential nuclear threats. For the past several years, DNDO has been funding the development of crystal structures called strontium iodide (SrI2) and cesium lithium yttrium chloride (Cs2LiYCl6), or CLYC for short. As of October 2012, these crystals became commercially available for use in radiation detection equipment.
These crystals are critical to the functionality of mobile radiation detectors because of their scintillation properties. A scintillator crystal converts incoming radiation into pulses of light, which are then converted into a measurable electronic signal which indicates the presence and the energy of incident radiation.
This new generation of scintillators will greatly benefit DHS personnel and first responders. Detectors made with CLYC crystals will enable first responders to carry only one compact detector, due to the special density and dual gamma ray/neutron detection quality of CLYC. In addition, the simple crystal structure of CLYC and SrI2 make them relatively easy to grow and less expensive compared to other scintillators; therefore DHS could acquire more mobile radiation units and expand the deployment of radiation detection capabilities. Finally, SrI2 and CLYC crystals provide much better energy resolution than what is currently in use, as the spectra created by these crystals are brighter, have less variation, or both, producing a detector that is faster and more accurate.
Manufacturers of detection equipment are now able to use these two crystal materials to create new and improved devices. This milestone represents not only a technological success, but also a successful transition of DNDO funded research and development efforts into the private sector.
Last week, Secretary Napolitano kicked off Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience Month by highlighting some of the work DHS does in partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to protect their assets and keep our communities safe and resilient. A resilient community is one that can bounce back from adversity, and can recover and rebuild from a disaster to be even stronger than before.
During widespread emergencies, DHS coordinates with our public and private sector partners as they work to get the power back on, the roads clear, hospitals open, and the other critical infrastructure on which we all rely, back up and running. But a community can only be resilient if its businesses and workers are prepared for emergencies and ready to reopen and return to serve their customers. When critical service providers are better prepared to bounce back from disasters and other emergencies, they help communities and local economies recover faster by delivering essential needs such as electricity, communication, medical care, water, and transportation to citizens, government, and other businesses.
While we can’t predict precisely how, when, or where Mother Nature or some other emergency may strike, we can do our part by preparing for the unexpected. DHS has a number of resources available to help businesses prepare for potential emergencies and develop plans to continue operations as soon as possible. Ready Business features a number of free resources, including a Business Continuity Planning Suite with training videos, exercises and template plans.
During this month, I encourage every business to take the steps now to make a plan, become prepared, and ensure their resilience.
For more information about the DHS’s critical infrastructure protection and resilience programs, training, and resources visit https://www.dhs.gov/criticalinfrastructure
Posted by Mike Hall, Federal Coordinating Officer for New Jersey
Editors Note: This blog was originally posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on December 3, 2012.
It’s hard to believe I have been working alongside our disaster relief team in New Jersey for more than a month. Thirty-five days have passed since Hurricane Sandy first made landfall on the New Jersey coast on October 29th. This marked one of the most damaging disasters in state history – battering the coastline with greater than 14-foot waves and wind gusts up to 88 mph. Even more unsettling were the 122,000 structures affected across 21 New Jersey counties – many of them damaged or destroyed. I’ve traveled to these hardest hit neighborhoods, met with the heartbroken of those who lost their homes, talked to children who were out of school, and committed to working with state and local officials to aid in the recovery efforts. As we move past this one month milestone, my primary focus remains on these people – the survivors of the storm.
When families and businesses begin to recover, whole communities begin to recover, and that is how New Jersey will revive and become stronger than ever. More than $730 million in federal disaster recovery money has been disbursed to start rebuilding the Garden State. Today we have more than 2,600 federal specialists working to support recovery in New Jersey, and our work is far from done.
State and federal disaster response teams were standing by with supplies even before Hurricane Sandy hit. As Sandy made its way up the east coast, FEMA and the Department of Defense established Incident Support Bases at Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to position supplies and other resources close to areas in the hurricane’s path. Following the storm, more than 1.7 million meals and 2.6 million snacks have been served to survivors and first responders.
The New Jersey National Guard responded with a force of over 2,200 guardsmen. In addition, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) facilitated the deployment of 440 personnel and equipment from 12 states to support New Jersey. This included law enforcement teams who provided security and emergency medical services, partnering with us and other agencies to carry out critical life-saving and sustaining operations in the immediate aftermath. The National Weather Service was vital in predicting and tracking the storm, the U.S. Coast Guard for search and rescue, the U.S. Public Health Service to support shelter operations, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for emergency generators, among others. Our operations to the response of the storm began aggressive and dynamic, and we will continue this same posture throughout the recovery process.
Seaside Heights, N.J., Nov. 28, 2012 -- The American Flag raised by Seaside Heights resident in New Jersey.
It was clear one of the first steps was to support power restoration efforts to over 2.6 million homes, businesses and government customers. For this we needed the whole community to come together. The Department of Energy worked closely with the state Board of Public Utilities to bring together more than 23,000 utility professionals from New Jersey who, aided by companies across the country, worked to restore service across the state. The Department of Defense actually airlifted crews and vehicles to New Jersey from the west coast. The weather didn’t wait on our behalf to bring cold temperatures or wintry conditions to the region. A week after Sandy, the nor’easter deposited enough wet snow to break more trees, and down more power lines to delay cleanup efforts for another day. This meant that tens of thousands of residents were still waiting for their lights to come back on. By Nov. 14, electricity was restored to every home and business that was in condition to receive electrical power.
Access to fuel presented another challenge, and early on President Obama authorized the release of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel from federal reserves to power government-owned and other vehicles being used in responding to the disaster. We set up six fueling stations for first responders accordingly.
One of the most heartwarming parts of disaster work is the opportunity to work with our voluntary agencies. These groups played a vital role in giving people needed shelter, a major lifeline for families displaced from their homes.
- At the peak 107 shelters were open with 4,370 people. Within three weeks, all shelters were able to close as displaced residents were assisted with finding lodging.
- By the time feeding sites were no longer needed, more than 1.7 million meals had been served, plus 2.6 million snacks.
- More than 31,000 cleanup kits had been issued and more than 23,000 comfort kits. Voluntary organizations served thousands of households doing clean-up and muck-outs and provided goods and services to hundreds of thousands of people – and pets - in need.
- These Organizations have clocked in over 600,000 recorded hours valued at $12.8 million dollars.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to them for their vital contributions to the Hurricane Sandy survivors.
Ortley Beach, N.J., Nov. 28, 2012 -- Sharon Meyers, a Red Cross volunteer, offers a hot meal to a resident in Ortley Beach, NJ. The Red Cross is providing disaster relief, from hot meals to cleaning supplies and clothing to residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Alongside our partners we plan to tackle the housing issues to provide options for individuals and families. As survivors cope with the remains of their homes and belongings, we need to continue to help people find a safe place to stay. FEMA employed its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program to allow nearly 3,000 individuals and families to lodge in 340 hotels during the first four-week period. We met this critical need in the short-term, but in the long-term I want folks back into their homes. Last week Gov. Christie approved New Jersey’s five-point long-range housing solution. It calls for the maximized use of existing rental properties; implementing our Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program to render habitable dwellings that lack only minor fixes; using state and federally-owned real property; using FEMA Direct Housing Assistance in the form of HUD-certified manufactured housing; and rehabilitation of existing structures. Yet I know that these programs are only useful if people know about them.
FEMA’s Community Relations specialists and FEMA Corps members, totaling more than 650, met 86,000 people by going door-to-door to share vital information about applying for FEMA Disaster Assistance as well as other assistance programs. More than 46,000 New Jersey families have benefitted from that assistance so far.
Sea Bright, N.J., Nov. 11, 2012 -- FEMA Corps team members Amy Butterfield and Sergio Tundo talked with volunteer Jason Young to ensure the owner of the residence was getting the needed assistance after Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the island.
In addition, our 33 currently open Disaster Recovery Centers are located at convenient public locations in each county. At these Centers you can get help registering for assistance and get answers to questions – nearly 25,000 have already visited. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Customer Service Representatives are there as well, receiving applications for low-interest disaster loans. SBA Business Recovery Centers are also open at 10 locations throughout New Jersey to assist eligible business owners in applying for disaster business loans for their physical damage loss and disaster-related working capital needs. Under SBA’s disaster assistance program, low-interest loans are available to homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes. To date, the SBA has approved 321 disaster home and business loans totaling more than $21 million.
Jersey City, N.J., Nov. 21, 2012 -- At the Hudson County FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at the Jersey City Museum, a Hurricane Sandy survivor receives information from FEMA Mitigation Specialists Doris Maldonado and Tony Hathcock.
At the same time, our Public Assistance division is meeting with local government officials all over the state to receive their requests for money to cover their disaster costs. That can include things from overtime costs all the way to the replacement of public buildings destroyed by the hurricane. We’re partnering with the state of New Jersey to anticipate and help meet needs. Moving forward, we have to work together closely as the situation changes and new challenges arise. Not only has FEMA worked with our federal, state, local, and voluntary partners, we’ve also teamed up with the private sector and academia to get Jersey back on its feet after Sandy. Look for our FEMA Mitigation staff at your local home repair stores for advice about rebuilding stronger, safer and smarter.
West Long Branch, N.J., Nov. 28, 2012 -- Hazard Mitigation Specialists are available at various Home Depot locations to answer questions regarding building techniques that reduce potential for damage from future disasters
To our “Jersey Strong” communities: You have weathered possibly the most devastating storm in your state’s history. Yet the feeling of hope and restoration prevails in New Jersey. You inspire me every day with your spirit of unity and pride, your hours donated to voluntary organizations, your donations to local survivors, and above all, your neighborliness. Thank you for all that you do. I am confident that you will recover, you will restore – and that together we will rebuild your communities stronger than ever.
This story isn’t over. FEMA remains present to address the challenges that remain and to meet the challenges to come, but it will take the whole community to restore New Jersey.
Together we are cleaning up neighborhoods and getting kids back to school. New Jersey’s state and local leaders stand committed to the promise of a recovery for coastal New Jersey.
And I’m standing with you.
Let us look back to remember what has been lost, but not forget what we’ve done together to restore New Jersey. Stay Jersey Strong.
Every December, in recognition of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience Month, we take the opportunity to engage public and private sector stakeholders, as well as the general public, to promote a safe, secure, and resilient nation.
Critical infrastructure is the backbone of our country’s national and economic security. It includes everything from power plants, chemical facilities and cyber networks, to bridges and highways, stadiums and shopping malls, as well as the federal buildings where millions of Americans work and visit each day.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) works regularly with business owners and operators to take steps to strengthen their facilities and communities. Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS provides a number of training programs designed to assist critical infrastructure owners and operators in protecting their facilities. The Department also conducts onsite risk assessments of critical infrastructure and shares risk and threat information with state, local and private sector partners.
Throughout December and beyond, please take a moment to think about the infrastructure upon which we rely daily and so often take for granted– the power we use, transportation we take, bridges we cross, and communication systems we use to stay in touch with friends and family. Next, look for ways to get involved in your community. Together, we can work to create a safer, more secure and more resilient nation.
For more information about Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience Month, click here.
Posted by Mike Byrne, Federal Coordinating Officer for New York
Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on November 30, 2012.
I am a native New Yorker.
I was born in New York City. I grew up in the city’s Public Housing developments in East Harlem and my Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters still live here. I worked for the New York Fire Department for 20 years, eventually serving as a Captain. I worked at the New York Office of Emergency Management and then I joined FEMA.
I’m a proud New Yorker and today, I’m honored to be part of the federal team that is working hard to assist my home city and state.
Coney Island, N.Y., Nov. 12, 2012 -- Aerial view of damage and debris on Coney Island, New York. Storm surge from Hurricane Sandy caused flooding and power outages throughout the island.
Long Beach, N.Y., Nov. 7, 2012 -- Cars were buried in sand from Hurricane Sandy. The storm surge created widespread flooding, power outages and devastation on Long Beach, New York. FEMA is working with state and local officials to assist residents who were affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Even before the storm, FEMA was preparing. We prepositioned food, water and blankets at two incident support bases in New York. FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT), trained to quickly coordinate federal resources to support the state were on the ground days before landfall. We also started calling in the cavalry, everyone from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We even had the Marines land on the beach in the Rockaways.
In the response phase of a disaster like this, it is critical that we focus on what I like to call the “four Ps” – “People, Power, Pumping and Pick-it-up.”
People always come first. The very first thing we did was get life-saving commodities out to the people. Within 24 hours we supplied more than a million liters of water and more than a million shelf ready meals to the New York National Guard and Voluntary Agencies throughout the city - who quickly distributed them to the New Yorkers in need. The third day after the storm, we were set up in all the affected areas.
New York is an amazing place, made up of different people from all over the world. Every neighborhood is distinctly unique, with different traditions, dialects and sense of community. But most of all, New York is made up of neighborhoods.
For example, you look on a map and see the Rockaways. But there are really four different Rockaways. You have Far Rock, Rockaway Beach, Belle Harbor and Breezy Point. Each neighborhood is different.
We set up Disaster Recovery Centers, where people can meet and talk about assistance face-to-face. I was out at the center in Rockaway Beach and there were tons of people waiting to be seen. Everyone had a number and I talked to a guy that had number 245. The center was on number 150. I told him we had heated buses that would take people to the Breezy Point center, but he wanted to stay with his neighbors and wait. That’s New York.
Today, we have 34 centers throughout damaged areas, covering the neighborhoods that have had the most damage. Over 56,000 New Yorkers have visited these centers. And we plan to open more.
Far Rockaway, N.Y., Nov. 10, 2012 --FEMA Corps personnel assist disaster survivors at a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Far Rockaway, New York. FEMA and the State set up the center to assist the needs of hurricane survivors.
Far Rockaway, N.Y., Nov. 10, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations specialist, Teisha Jeeter draws pictures with young disaster survivor, Luna Natalia Voss at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Far Rockaway, New York. The center was set up to assist the needs of Hurricane Sandy survivors.
The New York metropolitan area has over 15 million people and this is a city that is built vertically. We knew immediately that having enough people would be a huge challenge. We had over 1200 people out in the field, going door-to-door in the damaged areas. We had to activate the Department of Homeland Security surge capacity force to have enough people to do these sweeps. This “surge force” consisted of over 1,100 employees from the agencies that make up DHS, such as Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard. They are spending the nights on Merchant Marine training ships so we don’t take hotel rooms from survivors. I have been out to the ships and the sleeping conditions are austere, but the food is good.
A little over a week after the storm, on Nov. 6th, FEMA had received over 135,000 applications and approved almost $185 million in housing assistance to disaster survivors. We also had over 1,000 housing inspectors in the field who had completed over 17,000 inspections.
Long Beach, N.Y., Nov. 9, 2012 -- FEMA Housing Inspector, Bill Gay inspects a home in Long Beach for Hurricane Sandy related damages. The FEMA Individual Assistance program provides financial assistance for temporary housing and minor housing repairs.
In addition, we have employed a diverse outreach approach to make sure the word gets out amidst New York’s multicultural mosaic. When our community relations members come in contact with people who are have limited English proficiency, we have translators and materials in 21 different languages to ensure they get assistance.
Coney Island, N.Y., Nov. 25, 2012 -- FEMA Community Relations Limited English Proficiency (LEP) specialists, Eric Phillipson and Rossy Rey assist Russian hurricane survivor, Knana Letner with her special disaster related needs. The LEP strategic strike team was assigned to the Russian community in Coney Island, New York in response to Hurricane Sandy.
As for power, FEMA established a National Power Restoration Taskforce to cut through the red tape, increase federal, state, tribal, local and private sector coordination and restore power and fuel to people as quickly as possible. The Defense Logistics Agency delivered more than 2.3 million gallons of fuel to distribution points in New York and New Jersey. The U.S. Air Force transported equipment and supplies for power restoration efforts, including 69 vehicles belonging to the Southern California Edison utility company. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed 177 generators to sites throughout New York including apartment buildings managed by the New York City Housing Authority.
Pumping was a modern technological miracle. We had subway tunnels full of water. The Hugh Carey Tunnel (it will always be the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to me) was full to the roof. I was there and saw it, and I will tell you, I thought it would take months to get those tunnels pumped out. The Army Corps pumped out over 470 million gallons of water in less than two weeks.
The final P is “pick-it-up”. I’m talking about debris. A storm like this one generates a ton of debris and picking it up is always a challenge. The President signed an order saying we could pay for straight time for 30 days for debris pickup. Normally, we just pay for overtime, but being able to pay for all of the hours worked is a huge incentive to get the debris picked up and puts much needed money back into jurisdictions. It also incentivizes them to pick up the debris fast, because we only do this for 30 days. So far, we have picked up over 1.4 million cubic yards of debris.
We’ve done a lot, but, as long as there are people without power and in need of shelter, I am not satisfied. That’s why we came up with an innovative housing program called Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP). This program is designed for people who have power to the street, but cannot connect it to their houses. These are temporary repairs that are designed to let a family “shelter-in-place” while permanent repairs are made to their homes. We do this by making minor repairs to meters and panels to restore temporary power. The program also pays for other temporary housing repairs, such as covering windows, roofs and exterior doors. These repairs are meant to allow residents to return to safe and livable homes.
If you live in the five boroughs of New York City, call 311 to access information about the program. For those in Nassau County, call 1-888-684-4267 and if you live in Suffolk County, call 2-11. Your county or city will decide what elements of the STEP Program are available for your residence.
Long Beach, N.Y., Nov. 24, 2012 -- Electricians installing a heat register as part of the FEMA STEP Program. FEMA in conjunction with state, local and tribal partners, is implementing a Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Program to help people get back into their homes quickly and safely. STEP assists State, local and tribal governments in performing work and services essential to saving lives, protecting public health and safety, and protecting property. The program funds certain necessary and essential measures to help restore power, heat and hot water to primary residences that could regain power through necessary and essential repairs. STEP can help residents safely shelter-in-place in their homes pending more permanent repairs. FEMA is working with many partners including federal, state, local and tribal governments, voluntary faith-based and community-based organizations along with the private sector to assist residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
We have more work to do. When President Obama visited New York and toured the damaged areas, he looked directly in my eyes and said “stay on it.”
We’d like the New York Hurricane Sandy page to inform survivors of our future plans. I have over 3,000 staff here and I am working hard to hire locals – New Yorkers – to help with the recovery.
We plan to share stories and updates as the rebuilding process continues. And, of course, you will hear from me. I love to tell stories and I think this recovery might be one of the greatest stories of our time.
Posted by the Office of Public Affairs
Every year, the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as INTERPOL, comes together at its General Assembly to discuss the organization’s priorities and to elect the members of its governing board—the Executive Committee.
This year, at the 81st INTERPOL General Assembly held in Rome, Italy, DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Alan Bersin was elected to serve a three-year term as Vice President for the Americas on the INTERPOL Executive Committee. Mr. Bersin was elected with overwhelming support from the approximately 170 member countries in attendance. This year’s assembly also saw the largest U.S. delegation in history, reflecting the important role INTERPOL plays in international security, and in the security of the United States.
During his keynote address, Mr. Bersin underscored the need to work together on border security to combat transnational crime, and the importance of information-sharing between various law enforcement agencies and with INTERPOL. DHS currently utilizes INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document database every day to verify the travel documents of travelers seeking to enter the United States.
Mr. Bersin will continue to serve in his current role as Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s principal advisor on international affairs, and through his new responsibilities, work on advancing DHS’ collaboration with the world’s largest international law enforcement organization and its member countries.
In October, Secretary Napolitano visited the INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon, France, where she signed joint statements with Secretary General Ron Noble to further enhance cooperation between DHS and INTERPOL on border management and human trafficking.