One-on-One with…Secretary Janet Napolitano
To counter the threat of terrorism, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, has forged new partnerships and expanded information sharing with federal, state and local law enforcement - building a collaborative effort to detect and disrupt threats early on. Secretary Napolitano recently spoke with Dispatch Associate Editor Amy Schapiro, about the nexus between community policing and homeland security.
CP Dispatch: What nexus do you see between community policing and homeland security?
Secretary Napolitano: Let me start by saying that our ability to protect the homeland from terrorism and other threats in large part depends on the ability of state, local, county and tribal law enforcement to protect local communities. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) works directly with local law enforcement to fight violent crime, to provide training, funding, and threat-related intelligence directly to state, local, tribal, and territory police departments. One of the major portals through which we do this is the fusion centers. We have 72 fusion centers throughout the country. We are looking to add capacity in existing fusion centers, and, possibly add more fusion centers to the network. There is a direct connection between our statutory responsibilities and our interaction with state, local, and tribal law enforcement, who, afterall, have many resources and more pairs of eyes than we do.
CP Dispatch: Can you tell us more about fusion centers?
Secretary Napolitano: Fusion centers are a one-stop-shop, where you have colocated federal, state, and local sworn officers, where you have access to a myriad of different types of databases, and where we have the opportunity and ability to provide information at different levels of classification. Once they receive information from Federal authorities, personnel within these centers blend it with other information and analyze it so they can fully to come to understand what the local implications of a specific threat. Fusion centers should be able to share this knowledge with other state, local and tribal law enforcement entities thereby enabling information-driven policing strategies. Fusion centers are the centerpiece of state and local information-gathering and sharing for us across the country.
CP Dispatch: How can agencies learn about funding through DHS?
Secretary Napolitano: FEMA administers 99 percent of the grant funds we have, in terms of law enforcement grants. We have peer groups and evaluators that help make sure law enforcement and security grants go out to where they are needed. For more information visit: www.dhs.gov/xgovt/grants/index.shtm.
CP Dispatch: In the wake of the Christmas bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, what is DHS doing to address domestic radicalization and violent extremism?
Secretary Napolitano: With respect to the increase in domestic violent extremism, or home-based radicalization, one of the main things we do is provide intelligence and training. We are sharing information about threats that we are perceiving and receiving about potential violent activity. The focus needs to be at the local law enforcement level; that’s where we need to provide better training to our law enforcement colleagues. It’s important to ensure that officers are able to recognize behaviors and indicators associated with a specific threat and better distinguish between criminal activity and legal behavior. Community oriented, information-driven efforts by state, local and tribal law enforcement is one of the best ways to prevent violent crime–including crime motivated by extreme ideological beliefs. DHS is looking to expand its support for local community oriented policing efforts across the Nation so that these local efforts can incorporate efforts to prevent violent crime motivated by ideological beliefs into pre-existing, community-oriented violent crime reduction. On February. 3, I directed the Homeland Security Advisory Council to work with state and local law enforcement as well as relevant community groups to develop and provide to me recommendations regarding how the Department can better support community-based efforts to combat violent extremism domestically—focusing in particular on the issues of training, information sharing, and the adoption of community oriented law enforcement approaches to this issue.
CP Dispatch: How has serving in state level government benefited you in your current position?
Secretary Napolitano: As a former U.S. Attorney, Attorney General, and Governor for Arizona, I bring a state and local perspective and appreciation for state and local agencies. They add a crucial aspect to the security of this country and I want to ensure that those partnerships are robust and value added for them. We are all in this together.
Janet Napolitano is the third Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and is leading our nation's collective efforts to secure our country from the threats we face—from terrorism to natural disasters. Prior to becoming Secretary, Napolitano was in her second term as Governor of Arizona and was recognized as a national leader on homeland security, border security and immigration. She was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association and was named one of the top five governors in the country by TIME magazine. Napolitano was also the first female Attorney General of Arizona and served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. She graduated from Santa Clara University, where she won a Truman Scholarship and was the university's first female valedictorian, and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law. Before entering public office, Napolitano served as a clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced law in Phoenix at the firm of Lewis and Roca.