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May 19, 2015
12:02 pm

During National Police Week 2015, the Department of Homeland Security recognized and remembered those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice as they served, protected, and defended this great nation.

“Members of law enforcement, members of the police force, members of Federal law enforcement are like a family, and what we say to family members on occasions like this is there are no words to console your grief to help you through the loss of your loved one except that you should know that we will never let you be alone. You’ll always be a part of our family.” – Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson.

 

Secretary Johnson, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas, and DHS leaders across the Department participated in a number of events throughout the week to pay tribute to law enforcement, including DHS employees. From the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s annual Candlelight Vigil, we are starkly reminded of the dangers that the men and women in law enforcement face each and every day. We honor these heroes and we thank these heroes, not just during National Police Week, but every day of the year.

May 18, 2015
10:00 am

By Dr. Kathryn Brinsfield, Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs & Chief Medical Officer

The Department of Homeland Security is proud to recognize Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week – an opportunity to focus on the important work of our EMS providers and thank them for their service and protection. These individuals, who often put themselves at personal risk to help others, play a critical role in our Nation’s homeland security.

In the DHS Office of Health Affairs (OHA), we continue to do our part in supporting EMS providers. For example, over the past year our Chemical Defense program completed the “Patient Decontamination in a Mass Chemical Exposure Incident” planning guidance for communities. This guidance is intended to support state and local civilian first responders and health care receivers, along with emergency managers, public health practitioners, law enforcement officials, and risk communications experts who are the nation’s first line of defense.

We at DHS work to prepare all first responders for emergencies to ensure they have the tools and knowledge to protect and care for our communities in stressful and challenging circumstances. For our DHS responders, we are continuing our efforts to develop training focused on resilience and peer-support. Each day the men and women of DHS take on difficult tasks in order to keep our Nation safe; we can do our part by offering programs and support to keep their strengthen their resilience.

We believe strongly in the balance of work and family life, and encourage all responders to do the same. Take time to spend with families and friends – these moments are important to overall well-being.

To all EMS providers, please take care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of others. You serve an important role in your communities and we thank you for that!

May 7, 2015
3:00 pm

The Department of Homeland Security builds partnerships at the regional, state and local level to protect the critical infrastructure that supports much of our daily life. We value these relationships because the vast majority of the nation’s critical infrastructure – transportation networks, electric grids, wastewater treatment plants, and supply chains – are owned by the private sector and operate under a variety of state and local laws. 

As part of these efforts, the DHS Regional Resiliency Assessment Program (RRAP) examines critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, threats, and potential impacts in order to identify gaps, interdependencies, and the potential for cascading regional or national effects. Programs like the RRAP are even more important when we recognize that different regions of the country face different and unique hazards which affect different resources. However, a disruption in one community can affect goods and services elsewhere.

Today, members of the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection participated in a table-top exercise in Maine. This exercise was the capstone event of more than a year of activities that included workshops, assessments, open-source research, and subject matter expertise interviews with federal, state and local officials and the critical infrastructure community. This is the first ever RRAP to focus on the consequences of climate change. 

Long-term trends point to climate change as a major threat to critical infrastructure and the cascading effects will affect virtually all aspects of our way of life.  Through this RRAP, DHS is working with the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the impacts of climate change. With many of its transportation, electrical and drinking water assets vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm surge, the safety, economic prosperity and quality of life of Maine residents could ultimately be at stake.

The Maine RRAP is just one example of the type of collaboration and initiatives needed to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure and keep the public safe. Through RRAPs, DHS  produces a comprehensive Resiliency Assessment that identifies key resilience gaps and options for addressing these shortfalls. Information garnered from the Resiliency Assessment provides options for consideration for enhanced resilience activities, and can be used as a model for resilience improvements in similar situations beyond the immediate project.  In addition, the information provided to select facility owners and operators, regional organizations, and government agencies helps to guide strategic investments in equipment, planning, training, and resources to enhance the resilience and protection of facilities, surrounding communities, and entire regions.

Following the table-top exercise, DHS will continue to provide technical assistance in support of regional stakeholders’ adaptation plans and actions. Concurrently, we will use the Maine assessment as a model for other RRAPs to inform and expand outreach efforts with our partners to strengthen climate change adaptation planning across the country.

May 6, 2015
11:52 am

By RDML Joanna M. Nunan, USCG, Military Advisor to the Secretary

On Monday, Secretary Jeh Johnson, joined by Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, traveled to Norfolk, Va. where they observed a one-of-a-kind maritime counter-terrorism team: the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT). After boarding a 45-foot Response Boat, Secretary Johnson witnessed an exercise in which members of the USCG MSRT boarded a cruise vessel by helicopter and small boat. 

us coast guard

 Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team members climb a hook ladder to board a civilian passenger ship during a MSRT training demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay near Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. The MSRT is a specialized response team with advanced counter-terrorism skills and tactics. Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler.

Afterward, the delegation observed the MSRT respond to various law enforcement situations, and demonstrating the detection of explosive and other potential threats with various types of equipment uniquely suited for maritime situations.

helicopter and ship

Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team members climb a hook ladder to board a civilian passenger ship during a MSRT training demonstration in the Chesapeake Bay near Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. The MSRT is a specialized response team with advanced counter-terrorism skills and tactics. Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler.

The Department is celebrating Public Service Recognition Week by highlighting the complex and versatile skills of the men and women who make up the U.S. Coast Guard. Consistent training exercises like these are one way the Coast Guard remains Semper Paratus – always ready. 

Secretary and Response Team

Secretary Johnson is shown here with the Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team and several other Coast Guardsman in Virginia, May 4th, 2015. Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler.

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May 1, 2015
5:32 pm

Photo of the Week: The Law Enforcement United Bike Riders kick off their 800-mile, 8-day bike ride from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia to Washington, D.C. to commemorate the upcoming National Police Week. Riding in honor of officers who have died in the line of duty, the LEU Bike Riders are made up of active duty and retired law enforcement from across 12 states.

Official FLETC photo |  Download High-Resolution Image (4928 x 3280)

May 1, 2015
2:11 pm

By Maria Odom and Brian DeVallance

Every day, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays a role in combating domestic violence and sexual assault, and seeks to be a productive partner in working to prevent violence against women. In conjunction with National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, today the DHS Council on Combating Violence Against Women released a comprehensive DHS Resource Guide  which provides summaries and links to programs, initiatives, training materials, and services that can be leveraged by communities across the country to combat these types of heinous crimes. 

Created in 2012, the DHS Council on Combating Violence Against Women coordinates the Department’s efforts to stop sexual assault and other crimes. The Council provides a unique forum that brings together experts in all fields across the Department to identify we can further improve our ability to combat violence against women in the communities we serve.

The DHS Resource Guide: Combating Violence Against Women includes an overview of immigration relief and support services for victims, information on our victim-centered investigations, and opportunities for the public to engage directly with the Department on these issues.

In addition to these resources, the DHS Council on Combating Violence Against Women hosts quarterly teleconferences to educate and inform the community on the Department’s ongoing efforts to combat violence against women. We have hosted teleconferences to share information about the DHS Blue Campaign efforts to raise awareness on human trafficking, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Special Victims Counsel program which protects the rights of women in sexual assault cases, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ work to provide protections for victims, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s joint efforts to protect, and in many cases, to rescue women from violence.

Continued community engagement and partnerships are vital to ensuring the success of the Department’s efforts  on this important issue. As the Council’s co-chairs, we look forward to building on these efforts and advancing our work to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes.

For more information on the DHS Council on Combating Violence Against Women, contact VAWA@hq.dhs.gov.

April 30, 2015
4:32 pm

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign, the unified voice for the Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, held its semi-annual stakeholder engagement alongside the Department of Education. The event brought together federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, schools, and private industry partners to raise awareness of human trafficking in middle schools, high schools, and colleges, and to identify opportunities for collaboration in our shared anti-human trafficking efforts.

During the morning session, representatives from President Lincoln’s Cottage and FAIR Girls participated in a constructive dialogue on human trafficking prevention efforts in middle schools and high schools.  During the afternoon session, representatives from the University of Oklahoma, Pennsylvania State University, and George Mason University participated in a panel discussion focused on how academic research is advancing the effort to combat modern-day slavery, and how college and university students are working to prevent human trafficking in unique ways.  

We were also joined by U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp who highlighted the importance of raising awareness and working together to combat this terrible crime. Sen. Heitkamp has been a vocal advocate and leader in Congress on working to combat human trafficking.

Over the past year, the Blue Campaign has increased its outreach to the education community – including middle schools, high schools, and colleges – because we know the important role that schools play in educating communities about this issue, while also recognizing that students themselves may be vulnerable to human trafficking. 

Today’s event highlighted the importance of continued partnerships between DHS and our community of stakeholders to enhance our individual and collective abilities to identify and support victims, investigate cases, and bring those who commit and enable the crime of human trafficking to justice. Our work is far from over.

For more information on human trafficking tools for school administrators and staff, visit http://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/share-resources.

I encourage you to visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign to learn more, get involved, and join us in the fight against human trafficking.

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April 24, 2015
6:11 pm

By Lauren Kielsmeier, Executive Director for Academic Engagement

The Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC) recently celebrated three years of service to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Formed in March 2012, the HSAAC is comprised of a diverse group of university presidents, academic leaders, and interagency partners who advise the Secretary and senior leadership on matters related to homeland security and the academic community. Across the Council, members provide guidance on student and recent graduate recruitment; international students; academic research and faculty exchange; campus resilience; homeland security academic programs; and cybersecurity.

The Council’s work has significantly improved the Department’s engagement with the academic community. Through its six subcommittees, the Council has provided more than 100 recommendations to DHS. Of these, 82 percent have been fully or partially implemented, resulting in key accomplishments for both the Department and the academic community. 

One such accomplishment is improved campus resilience and emergency planning efforts. In October 2014, the Council, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Office of Academic Engagement (OAE) hosted the National Seminar and Tabletop Exercise for Institutions of Higher Education, the first in a series of tabletop exercises targeted to colleges and universities. The event brought together more than 100 participants from 21 colleges and universities, providing key insights surrounding common planning, preparedness, and resilience best practices and challenges. Also addressing a Council recommendation, FEMA launched the Academia and Resilience web portal, containing program guides, tools, outreach materials, and downloadable tabletop and emergency planning exercises targeted to the academic community. 

Additionally, the Council’s work surrounding student and recent graduate recruitment has supported DHS’s efforts to strengthen the diversity of its workforce and develop strategic partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). In 2014, DHS signed Memoranda of Understanding with five higher education associations, collectively representing 1,531 institutions around the country. These agreements formalize and strengthen the relationship and communication between the Department and the national associations.

Council recommendations have supported increased transparency and engagement on international student issues. Based on Council advice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began publishing draft policy guidance for public input on the Study in the States website, with 14 pieces of policy guidance published for public comment to date. To expand engagement with the academic community, OAE partnered with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), ICE SEVP, and the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA network to host a webinar with HBCUs focused on recruiting and enrolling international students.

In support of the Department’s mission to enhance cybersecurity, the Council’s recommendations have also led to the  promotion of key cybersecurity initiatives and resources, including the Secretary’s Honors Program Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative. Also noteworthy are the Council’s recommendations that resulted in the Department’s identification of 34 of its key research priorities as well as efforts to provide guidance on homeland security degree requirements and programs at U.S. colleges and universities.

The Council has been an invaluable asset to the Department and our efforts to engage with the academic community. I am proud of the Council’s accomplishments and grateful to its members for their service.

Learn more about the HSAAC here. For more information on DHS and academic engagement, visit http://www.dhs.gov/topic/academic-engagement, or sign up for email updates through DHS’s GovDelivery service.

April 24, 2015
5:55 pm

Secretary Johnson goes underway on the San Francisco Bay aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Response Boat Medium

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Secretary of Homeland Security goes underway on the San Francisco Bay aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Response Boat Medium out of Station San Francisco, during a trip to the Bay Area this week. Secretary Johnson is joined by Vice Admiral Charles Ray (center), Commander of Coast Guard Pacific Area; Captain Mike Day, Deputy Sector Commander Sector San Francisco; and Master Chief Petty Officer Devin Spencer, Station San Francisco Officer in Charge.

Official DHS Photo by Jetta Disco | Download High-Resolution Image (3936 x 2624)

April 22, 2015
4:48 pm

One year ago the Department of Homeland Security embarked on Secretary Jeh Johnson’s “Unity of Effort” initiative, to begin to set the conditions for the Department to act in a more unified fashion.

Today, on behalf of the Secretary, I am pleased to report that the Unity of Effort is exceeding expectations in its goal to build and sustain a culture that recognizes the strong need to unify our efforts to address the diverse and numerous challenges we face in securing this nation and the American people. 

Good leadership starts with good people. The senior leadership of the Department have been personally involved in wrestling with the difficult issues of the Department—issues of strategy, resource allocation, capability requirements, operational planning, joint operations, and headquarters organizational design—an a more inclusive, transparent way. 

The Department has also made great strides in mission execution over the past year. The new DHS Southern Border and Approaches Campaign has become operational with the standup of our three new DHS joint task forces. These task forces will be instrumental in changing the way we operate as a Department in those mission areas that touch upon multiple DHS Components. 

Our new joint requirements council is taking a hard look at what tools and resources the Department needs in order to operate in the future across a wide variety of mission areas: our aviation fleet, information-based screening and vetting equipment, information sharing systems; chemical biological radiological, and nuclear detection, and cybersecurity.

We are continuing to review and refine the Department’s acquisition processes, to enhance the way DHS does business. Today, we are announcing the launch of the Acquisition Innovations in Motion (AIiM) program, that will create learning opportunities for DHS by listening to those who participate in our acquisition processes internally – like our own acquisition professionals – and externally – including enhanced engagement with the private sector.

As we move into its second year, the Unity of Effort initiative will continue to serve as a driving force for much of our day-to-day work to improve the Department. We will continue to make investments in our greatest resource – our workforce -  through a number of human capital initiatives designed to weave unity of effort principles and practice into the fabric of the Department.

Our Department is diverse. Our duties are wide ranging. But our mission is clear: a safer, more secure nation for the American people. As the Department of Homeland Security continues to unify our efforts through leadership and management development, workforce engagement, successful operational execution, and refined acquisition processes, Secretary Johnson and I are confident that we will continue to deliver the best possible security of the homeland that the American people deserve.

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