Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Homeland Security on Our Street, USA

By Eric Stradford, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired
AMWS, September 30,2016, Kennesaw, GA – The race for President of the United States is looking less like a race and more like a study on race relations.  The latest drain on the news cycle comes at the expense of Terrance Crutcher, 40, of Tulsa, OK and Keith Lamont Scott, 43, Charlotte, NC.  Both men, African Americans, belonged to an historically disadvantaged constituency, systemically valued as “minorities.”

Both men, citizens of the United States, will not vote in the 2016 Presidential election.  They are dead, killed by, perhaps, well-intending peace officers, armed with Big Data, based on a perception of less than equal status. Their perceived value represents a known, credible threat to American lives.  

On-demand digital media is clearly a factor driving previously underreported offenses.  At first glance, the story appears to be a justice issue.  At times, it results in military intervention.  At one point, the President of the United States observed a “gulf of mistrust” between some citizens and law enforcement.  The Presidency, in succession will need to bridge that gulf in order to make America either “stronger together” or “great again.”

Candidates are learning that problems of structural racism are far broader than just police violence.  Alexis McGill Johnson of the Perceptions Institute noted that negative perceptions of black men and boys are held unconsciously by teachers, health care professionals, police officers, lawmakers, members of the media — really, by all of us.  “This fuels discriminatory practices in nearly every sphere of our society. Implicit biases and racial anxiety affect our sense of empathy for boys and men of color and our sense of outrage for the conditions they face — and, therefore, our capacity and will to transform the political and policy environment needed to change structural impediments to their success,” said McGill Johnson.

Some folks view the single most significant change in 21st Century governing with a “take it or leave it” mindset.  But, the newest federal department may ultimately render previous functions obsolete.    Homeland security is an American umbrella term for "the national effort to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, aspirations, and ways of life can thrive to the national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the U.S. to terrorism, and minimize the damage from attacks that do occur."

Homeland security is not constrained to terrorist incidents. Terrorism is one of many threats that endanger society. Within the U.S., an all-hazards approach exists regarding homeland security endeavors.  In this sense, homeland security encompasses both natural disasters and man-made events.  Thus, the domain of homeland security must accommodate a plethora of situations and scenarios, ranging from natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane Katrina) to acts of terrorism (e.g., Boston Marathon bombing), to historic fears resulting from “implicit biases and racial anxiety.”

Homeland Security identifies a venue for addressing some past actions and attitudes that with proactive solutions.   Somewhere between the first and last presidential debate is public awareness of the problem, and existing policy and programs that can work with just a wee bit of tweaking.

On Main Street, USA, more and more small police departments are gearing up with proactive homeland security strategies.  It’s not complicated here.  Just engage citizens as community assets.  In an economic context, the more assets, the fewer liabilities.

Community policing presents an existing starting point for meaningful engagement.  The concept integrates partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions.  Identified as “threats to the homeland,” these conditions give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) is the component of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for advancing the practice of community policing by the nation's state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement agencies through information and grant resources.

Community policing begins with a commitment to building trust and mutual respect between police and communities. It is critical to public safety, ensuring that all stakeholders work together to address our nation's crime challenges. When police and communities collaborate, they more effectively address underlying issues, change negative behavioral patterns, and allocate resources.

The COPS Office awards grants to hire community policing professionals, develop and test innovative policing strategies, and provide training and technical assistance to community members, local government leaders, and all levels of law enforcement. Since 1994, the COPS Office has invested more than $14 billion to help advance community policing.

Youth Achievers USA Institute, a national 501c3 public charity seeks to develop community partnerships by assisting emerging nonprofits through strategic planning, capacity building and succession planning phases.  The organization has committed a dollar for dollar match to service hours invested by citizens in the Citizens Police Academy.   YouthUSA funds will be applied to equity for youth beneficiaries in revenue-generating social enterprise projects.

The North Georgia Community Oriented Policing Strategies (COPS) Academy is a $___ m social enterprise owned and operated by qualifying community stakeholders.  A shared-use facility for local law enforcement agencies, federal park rangers, and citizen police academy participants transforms an underutilized federal campground into state-of-the-art training space for “homeland security assets.”   Community Policing Programs commonly engage area residents in intentional, prosocial community learning.

A key feature of the envisioned North Georgia COPS Academy is a state-of-the-art small arms range to meet law enforcement training needs while sensitizing citizens to law enforcement concerns.  On-demand training will support at no additional cost to the police department budget.

v Marksmanship

v Judgmental, use of force skills

v Shoot/don't shoot skills

v Less than lethal force options

v Low light/no light situations

v Cover and concealment

v Proper interaction and verbal commands

The public should play a role in prioritizing and addressing public safety problems.  Participants in a police department’s Citizen Police Academy will be invited to collaborate on “Organizational Transformation,” the alignment of organizational management, structure, personnel, and information systems to support community partnerships and proactive problem solving.

Kennesaw State University will be a key partner in a fully funded, and functioning COPS Academy.  KSU uses the umbrella term “community engagement” to encapsulate the various ways in which the university connects with the community. This includes any significant connection between KSU students, faculty, staff, alumni and retirees with the larger community through engaged teaching and learning, volunteering, outreach, community service or other means.

The #WeAreKennesaw partnership addresses a decline in student interest in the law enforcement field through an increased emphasis on the study of community policing.  The veteran-led partnership creates community leadership opportunities for transitioning veterans.  It connects veterans with VA educational benefits with learning opportunities at partnering Kennesaw State University.

Segal Education Awards offer an incentive for KSU students to demonstrate community leadership.  The education award may be used to pay educational costs at eligible post-secondary educational institutions (including many technical schools and GI-Bill approved educational programs), as well as to repay qualified student loans.  Since the program’s founding in 1994, almost 1 million AmeriCorps members have earned more than $2.4 billion in education awards.

National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has created a challenge grant program specifically for local Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Councils and shooting sports programs. Challenge grant funds should reflect planning to strengthen and increase BSA Council activities in shooting sports and commitment to the advancement of knowledge and understanding of shooting sports activities and firearms safety.

The range of potential partners is large, and these partnerships can be used to accomplish the two interrelated goals of developing solutions to problems through collaborative problem solving and improving public trust.

Based on an existing local police department annual budget of $6 million, the YouthUSA Community Trust model sets a goal to add value through a measurable increase in community assets.