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Law Enforcement | First Responders
Ottawa, Canada-based Solace Systems reports that DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) has selected its Unified Messaging Platform as a “prototype integration platform to enhance threat monitoring and response capabilities of local, state and federal emergency organizations in urban areas.”
According to the company, under this prototype, Solace message routers will be used in conjunction with strategically placed sensors, as well as applications responsible for recognizing threats and coordinating responses, to improve the country’s ability to protect population centers and critical infrastructure.
Solace also notes that its content and geospatial routing products are compliant with the Emergency Data Exchange Language suite of standards, which the DHS has adopted to improve communication between government agencies and non-governmental organizations.
“Improving situational awareness of potential security threats in major cities is a top priority,” Bob Dilonardo, CIO of the DNDO, said in a statement. “The addition of geospatial routing to our data distribution system will enable the real-time monitoring and information exchange we need to quickly and securely coordinate effective responses across all levels of government.”
Solace characterizes its technology as being able to define location as a single point of longitude and latitude, by proximity to a particular point or by inclusion within irregularly defined areas like security zones, flood plains or radioactive plumes.
Tewksbury, MA-based Raytheon Company reports that it has won a $4.3 million contract from DHS to develop next-generation panels that can scan rail cars to detect nuclear weapons and other materials.
The company calls the new panels an additional configuration in its Advanced Spectroscopic portfolio, a series of panels that can be used in various ways to screen cars, trucks, cargo containers, and now rail cars at seaports, border crossings and airports.
Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems is developing the panels for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office within DHS.
After a cargo container at a seaport has been loaded onto an 18-wheel flatbed truck or onto a rail car, the truck or car will pass between two of the new panels to be scanned for illicit materials.
The panels will be tested this summer in Tacoma, WA, says Raytheon.
The first-ever Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR), mandated by Congress and intended to “outline the strategic framework to guide the activities of participants in homeland security toward a common end,” has been published, and it outlines five over-arching DHS “missions“ and their associated goals.
In addition to reaffirming the primary importance of preventing another terrorist attack, the QHSR also emphasizes the all-hazards range of DHS activities in the Obama era: “Hurricane Katrina, widespread international cyber attacks, the expansion of transnational criminal activities, and H1N1 influenza are examples of threats and hazards that are central to homeland security, requiring an equally wide variety of capabilities to address them,” the QHSR notes.
The five homeland security missions that the QHSR delineates, and their associated goals, follow:
Mission 1: Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security
Goal 1.1: Prevent Terrorist Attacks
Goal 1.2: Prevent the Unauthorized Acquisition or Use of Chemical,
Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Materials and Capabilities
Goal 1.3: Manage Risks to Critical Infrastructure, Key Leadership, and
Mission 2: Securing and Managing Our Borders
Goal 2.1: Effectively Control U.S. Air, Land, and Sea Borders
Goal 2.2: Safeguard Lawful Trade and Travel
Goal 2.3: Disrupt and Dismantle Transnational Criminal Organizations
Mission 3: Enforcing and Administering Our Immigration Laws
Goal 3.1: Strengthen and Effectively Administer the Immigration System
Goal 3.2: Prevent Unlawful Immigration
Mission 4: Safeguarding and Securing Cyberspace
Goal 4.1: Create a Safe, Secure, and Resilient Cyber Environment
Goal 4.2: Promote Cybersecurity Knowledge and Innovation
Mission 5: Ensuring Resilience to Disasters
Goal 5.1: Mitigate Hazards
Goal 5.2: Enhance Preparedness
Goal 5.3: Ensure Effective Emergency Response
Goal 5.4: Rapidly Recover
The Office of Justice Programs' Bureau of Justice Assistance in the DoJ is seeking applications for the State and Local Terrorism Prevention Training and Technical Assistance National Initiative.
That initiative also includes tribal terrorism prevention training and assistance.
According to the grants notice, funding opportunity number BJA-2010-2496, this training and technical assistance program will “further the Department’s counter-terror efforts and assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to prevent acts of terror in their jurisdictions.”
In addition, the training will “emphasize that constitutional rights, civil liberties, civil rights, and privacy interests must be protected throughout the intelligence process.”
Up to $3 million in grants will be awarded under the program, though the number of grants available was not specified in the notice.
Eligible applicants, in addition to non-profits, faith-based organizations and institutions of higher learning, include “for profit organizations other than small businesses,” according to the notice.
The closing date for applications is March 18, 2010. Additional information is available from Al Roddy, at 202-353-1881.
The National Institute of Justice is seeking applications for research funding that will enhance the safety of law enforcement officers and other criminal justice practitioners.
There are no restrictions on applicants for these grants. Although funding dollars were not specified in the funding opportunity notice, number NIJ-2010-2390, NIJ expects to award up to 100 individual grants.
According to NIJ, specific areas of interest include: 1. Study of the effectiveness of alternative lighting and paint schemes on patrol vehicles; 2. Study of the safety of mounted equipment inside a patrol vehicle during a vehicle accident; 3. Methods to carry personal equipment currently being used by officers; and 4. Assessment of exposure to hazardous materials in the line of duty.
Applications need to be submitted through Office of Justice Program’s Web-based Grants Management System (GMS). Instructions on how to register and submit an application in GMS are at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/gmscbt/.
Closing date for applications is March 12, 2010.
For additional information, contact Brian Montgomery, at 202–353–9786 or at [email protected]
Organized threats to the security of the homeland are not necessarily all motivated by religious zealotry or extremist ideology.
Sometimes the threat is simply about money and turf, and the danger to citizens can involve something as innocent as the color of shirts they’re wearing.
Six members of a notorious gang, called La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, were convicted last week by a jury in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, N.C., of criminal charges that include racketeering, murder (in one case, because a man was wearing a red shirt), attempted murder, assault, cocaine trafficking and numerous related federal firearms offenses, the Department of Justice reports.
The gang, which originated in the slums of El Salvador before moving north to Los Angeles and spreading across the U.S. from there, is arguably more powerful and dangerous than the better-known Bloods and Crips.
The six gang members were charged with racketeering, murder, drug and firearms violations. They are Julio Cesar Rosales Lopez, 24, of Guilford County, NC; and, Juan Gilberto Villalobos, 42; Elvin Pastor Fernandez Gradis, 34; Carlos Roberto Figeroa-Pineda, 26; Johnny Elias Gonzalez, 21; and Santos Anibal Caballero Fernandez, 24, all of Charlotte.
All six were convicted of conspiring to engage in a racketeering enterprise in the Western District of North Carolina, El Salvador and elsewhere.
According to DoJ, evidence proved that MS-13 robbed and extorted, obstructed justice, tampered with witnesses, conspired to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and conspired to commit murder.
MS-13 racketeering activities included the murders of four people, attempted murder, assaults and threats of violence, according to DoJ, which calls the gang a “national and international criminal enterprise.”
The defendants face a variety of possible sentences based on their convictions, including for some, life in prison. In addition to the six defendants convicted last week, 19 other co-defendants have pleaded guilty to the racketeering charges in the indictment. One defendant remains in custody in El Salvador.
Altegrity, Inc., the holding company formerly known as USIS, has launched Altegrity Risk International (ARI), a New York City-based new business that will focus on global risk mitigation and security solutions.
The same day this week that Altegrity announced the formation of ARI, ARI in turn announced the acquisition of Washington, DC-based Corporate Risk International (CRI), an established business intelligence and risk management firm. Terms of that transaction were not disclosed.
ARI will be headed by Bill Bratton, the former chief of both the Los Angeles and New York City police departments, who becomes chairman, and Michael Beber, who becomes president and CEO.
Altegrity says that ARI’s multidisciplinary team from the fields of investigations, forensics, data intelligence, financial technology, and security / policing will provide ARI clients with specialized solutions to identify, analyze, prevent, and remediate the entire range of financial, legal / regulatory, reputational and security risks.
ARI describes CRI as a specialist in U.S. and international due diligence and investigative projects, white collar crime investigations, business intelligence gathering, undercover investigative operations, and anti-money laundering analyses. The company also conducts security and risk assessment surveys and provides crisis management and executive protection services.
“Risk has always been a part of our professional and personal lives, but because of the interconnected, global environment in which we live today, risk and security concerns have taken an unfortunate, costly, and at times deadly center stage,” Mike Cherkasky, Altegrity CEO, said in a statement announcing the formation of ARI. “We created Altegrity Risk International to provide a quicker, more thorough and inclusive, as well as cost-effective way to provide businesses and organizations with the information and expertise they need to reduce risk and ensure more secure and successful organizations.”
Altegrity is the holding company for HireRight and Explore Information Services, as well as USIS and ARI.
St. Louis, MO-based Porta-King has expanded its line of prefabricated structures to meet the enhanced security requirements for chemical and water facilities as mandated in House Bill HR 2868 and the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS).
House Bill HR 2868 calls for upgraded security to protect sensitive facilities against acts of terrorism.
The company, a specialist in custom-design prefabricated construction, offers structures such as fixed guard booths, mobile trailer security stations, turnstile shelters and guard towers.
The company notes that it also manufactures a line of ballistics-rated prefabricated structures that include walls, windows and doors constructed with bullet resistant materials that meet the Underwrites Laboratory (UL) 752 Level ballistic standard and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) IV ballistic standard.
“In response to CFATS and HR 2868, we are seeing a new need for security structures at facilities around the country such as waste water treatment facilities, public water systems and within the liquid petroleum industry” Gregg Pearlstone, Porta-King vice president, said in a statement.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has examined the Department of Energy’s (DoE) efforts protect sites with weapons grade nuclear materials, called “special nuclear material (SNM), partly by “transforming” the sites' contractor-provided protective forces into a tactical response force (TRF), with capabilities akin to the U.S. military.
How well is DoE doing?
The answer varies from SNM site to SNM site, according to GAO.
Contractors provide “armed security” at six sites that “store and process Category I SNM,” GAO notes. “DOE protective forces at each of these sites are covered under separate contracts and collective bargaining agreements between contractors and protective force unions. As a result, the management and compensation -- in terms of pay and benefits -- of protective forces vary.”
That variability means that some sites have already implemented such TRF requirements as increasing “move, shoot, and communicate” skills of protective units, others “do not plan to complete TRF implementation until the end of fiscal year 2011,” according to GAO.
In addition, says GAO, there are issues involving DoE efforts to “manage postretirement and pension liabilities for its contractors.” Those issues mean that some TRF members might not be able to continue their work until retirement age, GAO says.
One answer, which DoE rejects, according to GAO, is to “federalize” the TRF.
GAO’s bottom line, regardless of whether the forces are federalized or the current contractor system is kept in place, is that DoE should “address protective forces’ personnel system issues.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to perform for the first time a nationwide test of the country’s Emergency Alert System, which is designed to enable the President to communicate with the American public during a national crisis.
Under the existing warning system, FEMA, on behalf of the President, would initiate an alert message that would deliver a specially encoded message to a broadcast station-based transmission network that would, in turn, deliver the message to individual broadcasters, cable operators and other participants, who in turn, would deliver it to broadcast listeners, as well as subscribers to cable and other services.
Neither the nation’s original warning system, known as Control of Electromagnetic Radiation, or CONELRAD, which was established in 1951, nor its follow-on warning system, known as the Emergency Broadcast System, or EBS, which was established in 1963, were ever subjected to comprehensive nationwide testing.
“The EAS is intended to provide a reliable mechanism for the President to communicate with the country during emergencies,” explained a notice of proposed rulemaking published by the FCC in the Federal Register on January 29. “Yet the EAS has never been tested nationally in a systematic way, i.e., by use of a national test methodology that can identify system flaws and failures comprehensively and on a nationwide basis.”
The national EAS is commonly referred to as a “daisy chain,” because a message that originated with the President would be passed to FEMA-designated radio stations, known as “Primary Entry Point” (PEP) stations, which would pass the message to “State Primary” stations, which in turn, would pass the message to “Local Primary” stations. Currently, the U.S. is divided into approximately 550 EAS local areas, each of which contains at least two Primary Local stations, said the FCC notice.
“Because of its daisy chain structure, the EAS is potentially vulnerable to ‘single point of failure’ problems, i.e., where failure of a participating station results in system-wide failure for all points below that station on the daisy chain,” said the FCC, in citing potential EAS vulnerabilities.
The FCC’s planned nationwide testing program would involve more than 3.5 million respondents, it estimated, at an annual cost that would exceed $3 million.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed testing methodology by visiting www.regulations.gov and citing docket number FCC 10-11, or by contacting Lisa Fowlkes, deputy bureau chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, at [email protected] or at 202-418-7452. The comment period ends on March 1 and the reply comment period ends on March 30.