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Homeland Security Begins with Hometown Security

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One of the important lessons that we've learned over the years is that confronting violence in our communities works best when local law enforcement works in close collaboration with the communities and citizens they serve, as well as their partners in the federal government.

It's a simple idea, but a powerful one: that homeland security begins with hometown security.  And when we equip local law enforcement, citizens, and communities to understand and combat violent extremism, we make our home towns – and our nation – safer.

From the beginning, DHS has looked for ways to support local law enforcement, communities, and citizens.  Today, we took a significant step forward by announcing a series of measures (PDF, 2 pages - 26 KB) that follow on recommendations made by the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC).

In February, I charged the HSAC with determining how DHS could best support state and local law enforcement, and better empower communities, to understand, identify, and combat violent extremism.  Over four months, an HSAC working group that included chiefs of police, sheriffs, community leaders, and homeland security experts met to develop recommendations.

Since I received the recommendations (PDF, 30 pages - 174 KB) in May, my Department has worked with HSAC members to develop next steps that we could initiate or implement quickly with our federal, state, and local partners.  These steps are designed to strengthen the Department's commitment to supporting locally-based solutions such as community-oriented policing efforts to counter violent extremism and other types of crime.

The steps I announced today include:

  • Convening regional summits with state and local law enforcement, government, and community leaders this fall to share information about successful community-oriented policing and other crime reduction programs, and then gathering these best practices and sharing them on the widely-used Lessons Learned Information
    Sharing
     online platform.
  • Developing an innovative community-oriented policing curriculum for state and local law enforcement focused on behaviors and indicators of terrorism-related crime, and techniques for enhancing community-based partnerships.
  • Producing unclassified case studies examining recent incidents involving violent crime that will provide state and local partners with a greater understanding of common behaviors and indicators exhibited by suspects.
Indeed, there is much more to learn about the complex and evolving phenomenon of domestic radicalization.  But events of the past year tell us that we cannot wait for those discussions to end before taking steps to protect our local communities and the homeland. 

And so today, I was also proud to announce expansion of the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign to our nation's capital.  The campaign, which was originally implemented by New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority with support from DHS, is a simple and effective program to raise public awareness about indicators of terrorism and the importance of reporting suspicious activity to proper law enforcement authorities. 

Here in the Washington area, the campaign will draw on the Metropolitan Police Department's long-standing participation in the National Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative.  In the coming months, DHS will continue to expand the campaign with public education materials, advertisements and other tools to engage travelers, businesses, community organizations, and public and private sector employees. You can expect to start seeing them here in DC this fall.

Janet Napolitano
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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