Security Studies Program Seminar

Homeland Security

Edward Flynn
Chief of Police, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
(former Chief Advisor to Mass. Governor on Homeland Security and Secretary of Public Safety in Massachusetts)

April 30, 2008




• Isn't it better for decisions about funding to be made locally, where the information is most available? The truth is somewhere in between; can't have hundreds of separate security strategies for Massachusetts, and it makes sense to have some basic sense of the state-wide strategy to which funding is tied. Someone's got to coordinate it: feds are too far away and too big, while states are more appropriate. Some localities don't trust the state, but states need viable security strategies. Otherwise everyone buys shiny toys without a strategy.

• MBTA/subway safety anecdotes? MBTA spent a lot of money on communication system that didn't have interoperability, which was crucial since mass-transit is a key target (London, Spain). Had to spend a lot of money working on the tunnels since that's the key vulnerability. Private sector often overcharges/rips off government because they outthink the gov't.

• Is there a workable state and federal partnership? Lots of individual task forces do work/share crucial information. FBI is trying to become an intelligence rather than crime-fighting organization and that's posing lots of difficulties. Classification of information at the federal level is a huge problem for local authorities (took a year to get security clearance when he ran homeland security for Mass., and had to redo it when he went to be a police chief elsewhere).

• Model in public health system? Woefully underfunded but may be the best of both worlds. There are shared conceptions of what the threat is, what the symptoms are, how to report your observations and see if they connect up with others, central repository of the information, trip-wires, etc. There's nothing like that in homeland security because the turf battles are so stunning.

• Preventive side of things? A tough part is getting out of habit of doing investigation leading to arrest and into habit of doing investigation leading to information/surveillance (hard for FBI and for local police); everyone instinctively wants to make cases rather than find the maximum possible amount of information.

• Attackers from elsewhere, so how much does local policing matter? True that they developed elsewhere, but they did have to live here for a while, develop domestic identities, etc.; they came to some people's attention and local law enforcement needs to realize that profiling is not a dirty word (when it's about behavior and threat). (Also, the fact that first wave of attackers was here only briefly doesn't mean future attackers won't be here for longer.)

• New York's random police exercises: training or deterrent purposes—do they work? Doesn't require a lot to cause a lot of damage—two people in DC during sniper crisis essentially shut down the city for two weeks. So any little thing that might help is worthwhile.


Rapporteur: Jacob Hale Russell

back to Wednesday Seminars, Spring 2008