By Grace Castro, Public Affairs Specialist, Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Monterey, California
here do leaders on the U.S. homeland security front go to develop the policy and strategy skills needed to win the war on terrorism? They compete to participate in the United States’ premier master’s degree program in homeland security at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). For the last five years, the CHDS has provided a master’s degree program specifically designed for state, local, and federal officials.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice identified a need for terrorism-related graduate education for government officials. At the same time, the NPS leadership recognized that the events of September 11 redefined the national security structure and that the school had considerable knowledge, experience, and resources that could be leveraged to answer the national call for homeland security. A partnership was developed between the two organizations, and the CHDS was established.
Programs are now developed in partnership with and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the National Preparedness Directorate, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The CHDS was tasked with developing the nation’s first homeland security master’s degree program. The challenge was to create a graduate program that requires classroom discussion and debate for busy leaders who are located around the country and who cannot go to school full-time. The solution was an innovative hybrid model, where participants are in residence eight hours a day for two weeks each quarter and complete the remainder of the quarter through Web-based instruction. The master’s degree is offered at no cost to eligible local, tribal, state, and federal officials. More than 200 leaders have earned a degree in homeland security at the NPS in the five years since the program was launched. There are currently 120 officials taking homeland security classes at the NPS campus in Monterey, California, and at the program’s National Capital Region location in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. More than one-third of the center’s alumni and students work in law enforcement agencies across the United States.
Through graduate- and executive-level coursework, seminars, and research, government and military leaders gain analytical skills and substantive expertise on how to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorist attacks, as well as how to bridge gaps in interagency and civil-military cooperation. This instruction is accomplished by bringing together a diverse range of local, state, tribal, federal, and military officials in a neutral educational forum to share perspectives and lay the foundation for long-term homeland security collaboration. “The various perspectives allow for diverse and truly unique problem-solving sessions that are extremely valuable,” said Dee Walker, Montgomery County, Maryland, assistant chief of the investigative services bureau.
The program’s curriculum is structured around identifying the key policy and organizational design problems that current and future homeland security leaders are likely to confront, as well as developing the analytic skills they will need to meet those challenges. Each course in the curriculum requires students to master the core issues, principles, and problem-solving approaches for the topic in question and then apply those fundamentals to the specific challenges confronting their own jurisdictions or sponsoring organizations. Classes focus on technology, intelligence, critical infrastructure, planning and budgeting, fear management, and terrorism. Prioleau Green, deputy chief of police in Cleveland, Ohio, describes the Technology for Homeland Security course as the most valuable aspect of the program. The course, which focuses on technology as a tool to support homeland security personnel, provided him with a comprehensive view of the various technologies available to law enforcement professionals.
Assistant Chief Walker explains how the Psychology of Fear course gave her a better understanding of the dynamic of fear and how it affects human behavior. “The course,” said Assistant Chief Walker, “has given me the tools necessary to handle crisis situations such as the Beltway Sniper Case, when public fear is rampant.”
Another important aspect of the program is the opportunity students have to develop relationships during the in-residence sessions. They are able to build lasting networks that traverse levels of government and professional disciplines. “The primary benefit of the program is the networking opportunities I have received. I have contacts with people from my cohort class as well as all the staff and faculty of CHDS that I can call or e-mail for advice and guidance when needed,” said Kevin Cashen, chief of police in Norwalk, Ohio.
Students complete research papers and theses on actual policy development issues confronting local, state, tribal, and federal government. Many of the theses written in the program have become national best practices and have been implemented by government and military leaders to solve homeland security challenges in such areas as intelligence, information sharing, and critical infrastructure protection.
Alumni Success Stories
Many alumni are already using skills learned through the master’s degree program to make valuable contributions to homeland security policy and programs:
- Sacramento, California, deputy chief of police Rick Braziel’s thesis, “Impact of Homeland Security Communities of Learning: Developing a Strategy for Training and Collaboration,” was recently used as the framework for a $3.1 million DHS training grant. As a result, the Northern California Regional Public Safety Training College was awarded the three-year Competitive Training Grant by the DHS to train fusion center analysts.
- The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has awarded a $250,000 grant to the St. Paul Police Department and partnering organizations for an outreach program with the Muslim and Somali communities in the city. The project and grant proposal is based on former St. Paul assistant chief of police Dennis Jensen’s thesis, “Enhancing Homeland Security Efforts by Building Stronger Relationships between the Muslim Community and Local Law Enforcement.” The overall goal is to increase understanding among the police, the intervention project, and diverse Muslim communities.
- Naperville, Illinois, chief of police David Dial’s thesis, “Enterprise Policing for the September 12 Era,” influenced the Naperville Police Department to shift strategic direction from a community-oriented police agency to enterprise policing. Enterprise policing includes interacting or networking in unprecedented ways with other law enforcement and government agencies as well as community members for the purpose of informal communication and mutual support. Unlike community policing, enterprise policing involves the use of technology and training for information sharing and the development of actionable intelligence.
- As a result of the participation of Major Tom Dailey of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department (KCPD) in the graduate program, the KCPD created a homeland security division that Dailey now commands. His thesis, “Counter-Terrorism Patrol Strategy,” was central to the creation of the Mid-America Terrorism Early Warning fusion center.
The CHDS also offers noncredit versions of master’s degree courses online for homeland security professionals who for various reasons are unable to participate in the master’s degree program. The courses are designed for homeland security professionals who wish to enhance their understanding of key homeland security concepts and require the flexibility of self-paced instruction. There are currently more than 1,000 active participants in the process of completing online courses.
Programs work in conjunction with and are supported by the NPS Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL). The HSDL is the United States’ premier collection of homeland security policy- and strategy-related documents. It supports local, state, and federal analysis and decision-making needs and assists academics of all disciplines in homeland defense and security-related research. The library boasts an impressive compilation of over 50,000 U.S. policy documents, presidential directives, and national strategy documents. It also maintains specialized resources such as theses and reports drafted by some of the nation’s most senior homeland security officials. More than 400 agencies, colleges, and universities have instant access to the library.
Applications for the master’s degree program are accepted twice a year, by May 1 and December 1. For more information about all the programs offered by the CHDS, readers can visit www.chds.us. ■