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Back to Archives | Back to March 2006 Contents 

No Time for Complacency: Leadership and Partnerships Are Key in Homeland Security Efforts

By Commissioner M. L. Brown and Lieutenant L. D. Maples, Emergency Opera tions Section, California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, California

omeland security-namely, the protection of lives, the critical infrastructure, and the economic well-being of the state from terrorist attacks-has become part of the everyday vernacular of the CHP. The CHP's homeland security role grew from its mission of ensuring the safety of the public as they use California's transportation system, a system valued at $1 trillion. In addition, the CHP is statutorily responsible for providing protection of the governor, constitutional officers, dignitaries and judges, state employees, and state facilities. In the period after September 11, the governor of California expanded the CHP's role in order to fill the immediate need to increase the state's ability to deter, detect, and defend against possible acts of terrorism. The CHP, with more than 7,000 sworn personnel and the largest statewide law enforcement agency in California, was able to respond to that need.

California Initiatives
Since September 11, the CHP has devoted more than 1 million hours to homeland security-related activities. For example, on five occasions, the national terrorist threat level was raised to a heightened (orange) alert status. In response, CHP officers were placed on extended shifts to maximize the number of personnel available for immediate deployment.

Patrol and Traffic: In-view patrol and aggressive traffic enforcement are key factors in homeland security efforts for the department. During routine patrol duties, Photograph courtesy California Highway Patrol such as collision investigation, driving- under-the-influence arrests, criminal investigations, and community oriented programs, CHP officers are in regular contact with all facets of society. This regular contact increases deterrent capabilities against potential acts of terrorism. In addition, the agency's visible performance of routine patrol duties increases the public's confidence in law enforcement and projects an increased level of order and security.

Transportation Infrastructure: Due to the importance of the transportation infrastructure to the state, CHP officers have increased patrol and surveillance of major freeway interchanges, including the areas surrounding and below major interchanges. The CHP also implemented a bicycle patrol program to monitor and patrol the pedestrian walkway on the Golden Gate Bridge. During the periods of heightened alert, the CHP assigned officers to, and coordinated security efforts with, the National Guard and other law enforcement agencies for major bridges throughout the state. Closed-circuit video cameras continue to be used on major bridges to monitor anchor points and perimeter access.

The increase in staffing at CHP commercial inspection facilities, along with border points of entry, is intended to minimize the threat of terrorist activity involving commercial vehicles. Additionally, the CHP contacted commercial carriers of hazardous materials having terminals in California to ensure drivers are properly endorsed, have the proper documentation for the materials being transported, and that appropriate security measures are in place.

Partnerships: The CHP also participates in the Safe Delivery of Fuels Task Force that is designed to thwart potential terrorist actions involving the theft or hijacking of commercial vehicles laden with gasoline, diesel, propane, or other flammable or combustible fuels. The task force developed preventive measures for the fuel transportation industry as well as appropriate law enforcement response measures to deal with the illegal acquisition of fuel- laden vehicles. This program is administered nationally by the American Trucking Association and operated in California as a partnership between the CHP and the California Trucking Association.

Another program involving a partnership with the trucking industry is the Highway Watch Program. This voluntary program is intended to capitalize on the experiences and skills of professional truck drivers from around the country to use wireless location and communication technology to report security concerns they may observe during their travels. The CHP's role in the Highway Watch Program includes organizing classes and training volunteers.

The CHP participates in a joint committee with the California Department of Transportation and other agencies to constantly evaluate the security of the state's bridges, tunnels, and tubes. Furthermore, the department has increased monitoring of the California State Aqueduct and major dams to preclude the potential for an attack on the state's water system.

Site Security Surveys: In accordance with the statutory responsibility to protect state facilities and employees, the CHP has actively conducted site security surveys at over 40 state buildings housing more than 160 agencies. A comprehensive report was prepared for each site identifying security measures that could be improved along with providing recommendations for enhancements. The CHP has implemented enhanced security measures for other high-profile state facilities. For example, additional officers Most of the homeland security initiatives of the California Highway have been assigned to the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles to provide increased protection for State Supreme Patrol are applicable to agencies of any size.and Appellate Court offices. In addition, officers have been redirected to the San Francisco State Building and the Junipero Serra State Building.

New CHP Units Organized
In order to address threats to the state's vital computer infrastructure, the CHP established a cyberterrorism team to identify and investigate system vulnerabilities, close and lock firewalls, and monitor the security of various state-operated systems containing sensitive material. These teams have conducted a number of investigations into breaches of state computer systems.

The CHP's Emergency Notification and Tactical Alert Center (ENTAC) was established to act as an emergency notification and information conduit for the CHP's executive command and management staff as well as other allied agencies. ENTAC has provided a means for coordinating departmental responses to major incidents occurring in the CHP's jurisdiction. ENTAC also serves as the statewide contact for all California law enforcement agencies to run suspected terrorists through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) cyberterrorism watch system.

To address biological and chemical threats, the CHP established the Bioterrorism Unit to investigate and provide threat assessments concerning biological or chemical agents. This unit has been called upon to investigate several incidents for various agencies throughout the state, and its expertise is available to the private sector as well. In addition, hazardous materials teams available in each of CHP's eight field divisions can respond to biological and chemical threat-related incidents as needed.

Task Forces
Several multidimensional joint terrorism-related task forces composed of members from the CHP, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies were created after the September 11 attacks. Some of these task forces include the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces and regional Terrorist Early Warning Groups. The intent of these task forces is to allow for the dissemination of information and coordination of resources between different agencies, and at different levels of government, in order to ensure the appropriate response to potential threats to state and national security interests.

With statewide presence and ease of mobility, the CHP continues to assist other agencies such as the FBI with terrorism-related investigations. For example, at the request of the FBI, the CHP has conducted numerous investigative traffic stops of individuals suspected of being involved in terrorist activity, assisted with the investigation of diving and flight schools based upon specific threat-related intelligence, and responded to airports to investigate car rental thefts with possible links to terrorism.

Funding the Initiatives
The majority of these examples of initiatives and programs has and continues to be funded by CHP's existing budget. There has been no real augmentation to the department's budget to take into consideration and provide for the CHP's expanded homeland security role, and many agencies across the United States have been faced with similar funding challenges.

Lawmakers and the public demand and expect law enforcement to provide security under the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks. They also demand reports on the progress of homeland security-related programs, typically to justify funding and expenditures related to these programs. But it is difficult to quantify and compare, through statistics or other means, the performance of homeland security-related activities and programs as homeland security has only become a priority since the September 11 attacks. Most efforts and programs are directed toward preventing terrorist attacks and ensuring that agencies can respond to and mitigate incidents if they occur. The only answer to this concern is the fact that a terrorist attack has not occurred within the United States since 2001.

Nevertheless, the attacks upon London's transportation system last summer serve as a stark reminder that law enforcement cannot become complacent but must remain vigilant.

The Key: Leadership and Partnerships
Although initiatives such as the National Incident Management System were born in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, they were never fully tested under extreme conditions. In addition, these initiatives may not have taken into account political aspects and ramifications, even with the best of intentions. Hurricane Katrina response and recovery efforts proved to be susceptible to these unaccounted-for elements.

In the end, leadership and interagency cooperation are still keys in preparing for, responding to, and mitigating both human and natural disasters. Without these essential cornerstones, the most thorough, well-designed, and innovative programs are destined for failure. If anything positive can be taken away from the summer's bombings and the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina, it is that an opportunity to learn from these events has been provided and that complacency is the enemy of preparedness. ■



From The Police Chief, vol. 73, no. 3, March 2006. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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