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Secretary Napolitano, Governor O'Malley discuss homeland security architecture

Secretary Napolitano, Governor O'Malley discuss homeland security architecture

Friday, October 7, 2011

How homeland security and resilience has evolved since 9/11 attacks

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) hosted a forum on campus yesterday bringing together Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley with about 200 members of the university community to discuss the homeland security architecture in a post 9/11 world and how federal and state partnerships have evolved.

Moderated by Gary LaFree, director of START, the standing-room-only event centered on several critical homeland security issues including how well information is being shared between federal and state governments, what strategies are being developed for countering terrorism and violent extremism and what measures are being taken to improve the resilience of citizens when they face human-caused and natural disasters.

"I am proud of our strong partnership here at the University of Maryland as it is the locale of one of our centers of excellence," Napolitano said. "We are building an architecture, constructing an enterprise. Homeland security is one of the newest fields in the academic university, but it's one of the most important."

"It's no surprise that such a well respected and influential research center is based here," O'Malley said. "In the last decade our focus has been on becoming better prepared, better protected. As we move forward, thanks to Secretary Napolitano, we are shifting our focus to make it more encompassing, from preventing attacks and responding after attacks, to building up our resiliency."

Napolitano said that in the 10 years since the 9/11 attacks, federal and state governments are more readily sharing information and local law enforcement officers are better equipped to recognize and address threats.

"We have embarked on a really aggressive program of information sharing," she said. "Previously, intelligence was circled among intelligence professionals within the beltway, but very little of it got out to those responsible for public safety."

The governor agreed and said that information sharing is paramount and that communication, coordination and cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement is key to preventing terrorism.

Both Napolitano and O'Malley also stressed the importance of civic engagement and interaction between law enforcement and citizens. They said that those relationships can both prevent terrorism and improve resilience within communities when disasters occur.

"Resilience is different than preparedness, it's different than recovery," O'Malley said. "I liken it more to sustainability: how do we design those assets of ours in such a way that they can take a hit and keep on functioning?"

Napolitano and O'Malley also offered advice for students in the audience interested in pursuing careers in homeland security. They said students should take advantage of programs, such as those offered by START, that educate them on foreign policy matters, offer a deep understanding of American history and the Constitution, equip them with organizational management skills and train them in cyber security.

"To the students here: thank you for your hard work," O'Malley said. "We need your generation. This is an ongoing work. This is an ongoing journey. This is an ongoing mission." To watch the discussion, visit here. For more photos, visit here.