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May 20, 2013
12:42 pm

Posted by Dr. J.D. Polk, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs & Acting Chief Medical Officer

This week, we celebrate and honor the federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal Emergency Medical Service (EMS) practitioners serving communities all across the country. Every day, we see paramedics or firefighters, but many of us do not actually stop to think about what they do or thank them for their service until a crisis occurs. National EMS Week is the perfect opportunity to recognize and salute every man and women serving in emergency medical services for their tireless service.

There is a kinship and a bond that goes with being an EMS provider. When others are rushing out of the burning building, EMS personnel are rushing in, completely aware of the dangers they face. I have vivid memories from my own EMS days, from crawling on my back across the broken glass of the windshield in a smashed car, and attempting to intubate the entrapped patient, to the hum of the helicopter rotors as we circled a scene to assess the landing area, with the strobe lights of EMS vehicles illuminating the night sky. Each time, I pause at the sight of a black band around the badge of a firefighter, medic, or law enforcement officer, a reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Within the Department of Homeland Security, we have our own EMS personnel. Emergency medical services cover the spectrum of medical and trauma care and DHS EMS is no exception. In addition to providing the care offered by local EMS systems, most DHS EMS personnel are also law enforcement officers, providing workforce protection, basic life support, tactical combat care and care under fire. When DHS was created, and later the Office of Health Affairs was formed, we collaborated with the Emergency Medical Services Training and Education Advisory Committee to ensure sufficient resources are available, and ensure that DHS EMS systems are able to work together, and share resources and best practices. It is a job we take seriously.

EMS providers are on the frontlines in the homeland security enterprise. They are the first to respond, assess, and engage after an incident. To all EMS personnel, we thank you for everything that you do, and for your continued vigilance in the mission to save lives and ease suffering, and for your role in making our nation safer, more secure and more resilient.

May 20, 2013
11:08 am

As we celebrated National Police Week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) honored the men and women of the law enforcement community and remembered those who have given their lives in the line of duty.

This year, 321 names of fallen officers were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall, including five members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and one member of the U.S. Coast Guard who were killed in the line of duty.  We honor the memory of Agents Leopoldo Cavazos Jr., James R. Dominguez, Jeffrey Ramirez, Nicholas J.  Ivie, and David Delaney of the U.S. Border Patrol; and Senior Chief Petty Officer Terrell Edwin Horne III of the U.S. Coast Guard. They represent the spirit of public service and the best of our nation.  We offer our condolences to their families, friends, and loved ones, who feel the great pain of their absence, and who, themselves, have made tremendous sacrifice.

Throughout National Police Week, we recommitted ourselves to the causes they served – upholding the rule of law, the pursuit of justice, and the protection of the American people. And we commit to always remembering the lives they led, the contributions they made, and the examples they set.

As National Police Week has concluded, please join me in recognizing the acts of selflessness and heroism performed by DHS and other law enforcement personnel in communities across the country, every single day.

May 17, 2013
3:08 pm


Yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held the Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony  at the Woodrow Wilson Plaza in Washington, D.C. The ceremony honored five Border Patrol agents who died in the line of duty during 2012 protecting the U.S., as well as the men and women of CBP and its legacy agencies who previously gave their lives while serving their country.

CBP’s Valor Memorial was created to honor the men and women of CBP and its legacy agencies who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The inscription on the memorial reads: “In honor of the officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and predecessor agencies who faithfully performed their duties and sacrificed their lives in protecting the borders, commerce and people of the United States of America.”

“Each year, we gather for the Valor Memorial ceremony to pay tribute to the service and the sacrifice of our CBP officers and agents killed in the line of duty,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Let us all remember that these men answered the call when their nation needed them. We will never forget the legacies of the agents.”

For more information about the Valor Memorial ceremony, and those who were honored, please visit here.

May 17, 2013
9:17 am

The President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitoring and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF) meets at the White House today, May 17, at 9:45 AM EDT. The annual cabinet-level meeting serves as an opportunity to coordinate government-wide efforts and discuss new initiatives to combat human trafficking.

During this year’s meeting, Acting Deputy Secretary Beers and other senior Administration officials will highlight the unprecedented interagency engagement, coordination, and commitment over the last year, from investing in victim services and law enforcement training, to strengthening government procurement protections, to building partnerships with civil society and the private sector.

If you are having difficulty viewing this video, please click here.

May 14, 2013
6:25 pm

Last evening, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano attended the 25th Annual Candlelight Vigil, to honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement professionals who lost their lives in the line of duty. Secretary Napolitano joined Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski, CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman and CEO Craig W. Floyd and other law enforcement leaders at this event, held during National Police Week.

May 13, 2013
1:19 pm

Today’s evolving threats transcend national borders and affect the security and economic prosperity of the entire international community. DHS collaborates with international partners to enhance information sharing, increase situational awareness, improve incident response capabilities and overall incident management, support law enforcement activities, and coordinate strategic policy issues. To foster our common economic and security goals, last week, the Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety Canada co-hosted the annual EU-US-Canada Expert Meeting on Critical Infrastructure Protection at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Critical infrastructure is the backbone of a country’s national and economic security and includes such key elements as power plants, chemical facilities, communications networks, bridges, highways, and stadiums.  This year’s meeting underscored the value of expanding our collective knowledge base and enhancing understanding of approaches to key issues in critical infrastructure security. Since we began these gatherings four years ago, we have matured as a group in our thinking, concepts, and approaches to critical infrastructure resilience, and have learned from each other along the way. At our first meeting four years ago, we discussed basic elements of critical infrastructure protection such as partnerships as well as defining and identifying critical infrastructure.  Earlier this month, during our fourth meeting, we delved into issues regarding aging infrastructure, public-private sector engagement, and the interdependence of physical and cyber critical infrastructure.

When we reconvene next year, we intend to further explore the effects of aging infrastructure and the nexus between physical and cyber infrastructure. Collaboration and information sharing with our international partners about critical infrastructure resilience builds on the Department’s approach to securing our nation’s critical infrastructure and further contributes to international security.

May 9, 2013
3:21 pm

(Image courtesy of Forbes)

Today in New York City, Secretary Napolitano participated in the inaugural Forbes Women’s Summit, where she spoke as part of a panel discussion highlighting the growing influence of women in shaping policy.

"Today, there are women stepping into leadership roles in every part of public life,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Foreign policy, public safety, healthcare, the economy, job creation, education, and the environment:  these are issues that affect everybody. At such a critical time for our country, the participation of women in our political process has never been more important.”

May 8, 2013
1:44 pm

From email and banking to social media and mobile apps, the average person has a long list of passwords. While keeping track of numerous account logins can be tedious, there could be serious implications if a cybercriminal gains access to your email, financial information, social security number, or even your medical records. Passwords are the most common means of authentication online, and that is why it is critical to use strong passwords and keep them confidential.

Here are some the tips below from the Stop.Think.Connect. ™ campaign to help make your passwords stronger and  help keep them secure:

  • Don't use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language and use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Don't use passwords that are based on personal information or that can be easily accessed or guessed including birthdays, names of pets, or favorite movies and books that can be found by a quick search on social networking sites.
  • Use passphrases like "Thispasswdis4myemail!" to help you remember complex passwords.
  • Write down your passwords and store them in a secure place away from your computer if necessary. For example, passwords locked in your desk drawer are secure, but passwords on a sticky note stuck to the monitor are not.
  • Use different passwords for different accounts and change them regularly.
  • Make sure account login pages use encryption including a URL that begins with "https:" instead of "http:". Look for the padlock icon in the browser bar, too. If the padlock icon appears on the webpage, but not in the browser bar, it might just be a graphic that a cybercriminal embedded to trick you into feeling secure.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we are all called on to ACT or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. We know it only takes a single infected computer to potentially infect thousands and perhaps millions of others.  But at the end of the day, cybersecurity is ultimately about people.  The most impressive and sophisticated technology is worthless if it’s not operated and maintained by informed and conscientious users.

If each of us commits to staying informed of cybersecurity risks and takes a few simple steps, we can all make a big difference to stay safe online.

For more information on choosing and protecting passwords, visit the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), and for general online safety tips, visit Stop.Think.Connect.

May 6, 2013
4:58 pm

Posted by the Office of International Affairs

Today, DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Alan Bersin and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski met with Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade Under Secretary Ziya Altunyaldiz, to discuss efforts to secure and facilitate legitimate trade and travel. This meeting was a follow up to Secretary Janet Napolitano’s trip to Turkey in October 2012. 

During the meeting, the DHS and Turkish representatives discussed how customs agencies can partner with industry, through programs such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, to identify high risk cargo early in the shipment process and share best practices for training customs officers. DHS and the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade are working together to translate these discussions into new forms of direct operational cooperation in order to improve the security and resilience of the global supply chain.

Last fall, Secretary Napolitano traveled to Ankara where she met with Minister Yazici in addition to Deputy Prime Minister Atalay, Maritime, and Communications Minister Yidirim, and Interior Minister Sahin to discuss the Department’s collaboration with international partners on enhancing information sharing and combating transnational crime, while strengthening economic ties. 

May 6, 2013
3:25 pm

Public Service Recognition Week is a time for us to recognize the contributions of federal, state, and local government employees who serve in communities all across the nation, on the frontlines and around the world. We are thankful for their tireless work and sacrifice.

Today, I joined other senior Administration officials at the Partnership for Public Service Town Hall where we paid tribute to the contributions of all who serves, and renewed our own pledge to service. Together with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe, and General Services Administration Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini, we participated in a dynamic dialogue on the value of government service.

During the event, I had the opportunity to underscore the importance of public service to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  As we mark DHS’ tenth anniversary this year, we continue to focus on service, both in the missions we carry out and the services we provide to millions of Americans every day. From the One-DHS approach to disaster preparedness, response and recovery, to our unprecedented efforts to secure our land, air and sea borders, to our efforts in cybersecurity and devotion to the safety of the public at large, DHS’ work could not be possible without the commitment and sacrifice of the dedicated employees that I am proud to serve alongside. Please join me in honoring and recognizing their work to make our nation safer, more secure and more resilient.


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