WASHINGTON—Last month, the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) hosted a first-of-its-kind meeting of senior state and local officials to share best practices for protecting their citizens from radiological and nuclear (R/N) threats. These officials represented the 14 local jurisdictions that participate in CWMD’s Securing the Cities (STC) program. Senior officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration also joined the half-day virtual meeting.
In 2006, DHS launched the STC Program as a pilot project in New York City. The CWMD Act of 2018 authorized and expanded the program to help protect urban areas from terrorist attacks and other high-consequence events with R/N materials. Through cooperative agreements with the partnering urban areas, DHS provides R/N detection equipment, training, exercise support, and technical support. Current STC participants are New York City, Newark/Jersey City, Los Angeles/Long Beach, National Capital Region, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and New Orleans.
“Securing the Cities is one of CWMD’s flagship programs,” said Gary Rasicot, acting Assistant Secretary for CWMD. “This meeting is the first of many we are planning to help our partners learn from each other by sharing information, strategic direction, and critical developments. The meeting also provided CWMD and our federal partners the chance to hear directly from state and local officials about their needs.”
“Working for an STC region, we are often in the weeds, thinking about equipment selections, hosting committee meetings, and developing plans,” said Aimee Mankins, Maricopa County Emergency Management, Emergency Services Planner. “This meeting provided us with an opportunity to view the STC program from a national level and to see how we are connected to other STC regions. It also served as a reminder of the risks and threats we each face, making our implementation work at the regional level more important.”
CWMD serves as DHS’s focal point for countering weapons of mass destruction efforts. By supporting operational partners across federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, CWMD coordinates DHS efforts to safeguard the United States against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and health security threats.