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DHS' Progress in 2011: Community Engagement

Highlighting Our Progress in 2011: Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was formed with the belief that homeland security begins with hometown security. In 2011, DHS conducted unprecedented outreach to state, local, and private sector partners, in an effort to engage communities across the country in DHS core missions. These efforts focused on information sharing; promoting civil rights and civil liberties; increasing access to DHS programs; and strengthening the DHS enterprise.


  • The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) leads or plays a significant role in regular roundtable meetings, community engagement and outreach events with diverse stakeholders, elected officials, and non-governmental organizations across the country. The goals of CRCL’s community engagement program are to communicate reliable information about DHS programs and policies, including avenues for redress and complaints; obtain feedback about community concerns and ensure they are incorporated into the policymaking process; and deepen the channels of communication between communities and federal officials.
  • In 2011, CRCL initiated CRCL Impact Assessments to review DHS programs related to border searches of electronic equipment; state and major urban area fusion centers; and the Future Attribute Screening Technology program.
  • On behalf of DHS and the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CISOMB) hosted roundtables with stakeholders from educational institutions, legal services providers, and state and local advocacy groups, to share information about DHS programs that support the protection of immigrant women and girls and hear feedback from community-based partners about the challenges and opportunities that they experience in their local communities.
  • The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), CRCL, and CISOMB worked with DHS immigration-related components and a number of non-governmental organizations to develop the first training program for DHS personnel focused on the requirements and protections created by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and other protections afforded immigrant victims of domestic violence and other certain crimes. 
  • DHS strengthened its outreach efforts to academic institutions through the Office of Academic Engagement, which supports the Department’s mission by building, improving and leveraging relationships with the academic community.
  • DHS announced a new DHS Tribal Consultation Policy outlining the guiding principles under which all elements of the Department are to engage with sovereign tribal governments.
  • DHS continues to engage communities and its federal partners in its efforts to Counter Violent Extremism (CVE). DHS focused its CVE efforts on three broad objectives:
    • Supporting and coordinating efforts to better understand the phenomenon of violent extremism, including assessing the threat it poses to the Nation as a whole and within specific communities;
    • Working with non-governmental, community-based programs, and strengthening relationships with communities that may be targeted for recruitment by violent extremists; and
    • Disrupting and deterring recruitment or individual mobilization through support for local law enforcement programs, including information-driven, community-oriented policing efforts.
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection continues to conduct educational programs targeted at high school students on the Southwest Border through “Operation Detour” to inform and warn teenagers of the dangers of getting involved in drug smuggling and selling activities, and has been instrumental in reaching tens of thousands of students, teachers and parents throughout border communities in the past two years.
  • In coordination with the Office for Intelligence & Analysis, DHS’s Office of Health Affairs enhanced health intelligence sharing with state and local health officials by providing classified health threat briefings on emerging threats.
  • In an effort to advance Whole Community preparedness, the Federal Emergency Management Agency held the African American Leadership Summit and Latino Leadership Summit in 2011. As part of the Leadership Summits, representatives from all levels of government, including public and private sector leaders, emergency responders, and the faith based community discussed the whole community approach to emergency management and shared experiences in advancing preparedness efforts.
  • DHS held a first of its kind Faith-based homeland security information sharing meeting in February 2011 to discuss how best to leverage the unique strengths and capabilities of our faith-based partners as part of the Homeland Security enterprise.
  • In September 2011, DHS awarded the DHS Distinguished Public Service Medal posthumously to Rick Rescorla, a hero of 9/11 who gave his life helping his colleagues safely evacuate the World Trade Center.  During the award ceremony, Secretary Napolitano also announced the creation of a new award inspired by Rescorla’s legacy: the National Resilience Award, DHS’s first national award on resilience.  The award will be given to individuals, organizations, or communities that have shown superior leadership and innovation in helping to build a national culture of resilience, with a focus on effective preparation, response, and recovery in the face of disasters.
  • The Private Sector Office coordinated several DHS for a Day events in 2011, hosting over 100 private sector partners in hands-on opportunities to showcase the DHS missions through events focused on veterans, supply chain security, transportation security, maritime security, preparedness, and border security.
  • The Private Sector Office launched the DHS Loaned Executive Program in 2011, which provides top executive-level experts from the private sector an opportunity to share their expertise with senior DHS leadership to fill special, discrete needs.
  • During FY 2011, the Department expanded its language access efforts, providing outreach opportunities in multiple languages on issues including citizenship requirements, protecting against the unauthorized practice of immigration law, disaster assistance, human trafficking, and airport security.

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Highlighting the Department's Progress in 2011

Last Published Date: July 18, 2012
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