Let’s Get More Sensible With Homeland Security Spending
I am severely disappointed how my tax dollars are inappropriately being spent on homeland security. Washington has been having one giant pork fest — spending money hand-over-fist on unproven technological vaporware. Government officials are being hoodwinked by obscure, under-funded startups that tout how their technology is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Yet, any businessperson knows boisterous claims are usually a warning sign of immature technology or ambiguous solutions.
Let me make it clear that the technological vaporware I’m referring to is not our tried-and-true CCTV, access control, intrusion and other equipment and systems. No, I am talking about pie-in-the-sky, Fantasy Island stuff like artificial noses that sniff out explosives; camera-based software that analyzes terrorists by the gait of their walk; saliva scanners; sensors that pick up traces of DNA a person leaves behind; and let’s not forget about software that distinguishes individuals from a distance based on the shape of their ears!
Literally, billions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on this type of futuristic, Buck Rogers vaporware. Federal homeland funding needs to be directed where it is needed today, in the here-and-now, not the Year 2025.
In addition, much of homeland security funding has been earmarked for police and firefighters. Without a doubt, the men and women of our nation’s law enforcement community are our most precious asset in the struggle to protect the homeland and need to be commended for their service. They are our first responders, traditionally dealing with a crime after it has been committed — making arrests, collecting evidence and seeking convictions.
Unfortunately, this reactive operating protocol is insufficient when it comes to terrorist attacks. Homeland security requires a proactive approach that is aimed at prevention, not just investigations and convictions. So what do the police spend their money on when they get federal homeland security funding? Purchasing more tactical equipment to respond to an attack!
I believe we need to overhaul our law enforcement infrastructure. Here’s one thing I propose in a nutshell:
Designate a portion of federal homeland security funds (maybe $10 billion out of the $50 billion) to be used to subsidize new “Public Security” divisions in police departments located in the top 50 most populated metro areas. This new division would be in the same realm as forensics, homicide, SVU, SWAT, etc.
The Public Security division would be a force of highly trained officers — similar to Israeli intelligence officers — who would be responsible for preventative security in high-profile public areas within the jurisdiction of the department. Examples would be metro rail lines, public venues, tourist attractions or any other high-traffic areas where people gather.
These officers would be technology, behavioral and intelligence specialists. Currently, if a police officer walks into a convenience store, sees a guy standing reading a magazine off to the side, he probably doesn’t do anything because no crime has been committed. An Israeli officer would view things in a different manner. He or she would notice the guy’s eyes shifting, the beads of sweat on his head, his hands trembling, etc. The officer would realize this guy is not simply reading a magazine, but possibly getting ready to rob the place!
If a Public Security officer performing a virtual CCTV patrol sees someone running down the subway stairs in the middle of summer with a heavy winter coat, the officer could head-off disaster before the suspect reaches crowds of people. This is a very simplistic example of preventative measures and techniques in which the Public Security division officers would be trained.
This division would also be responsible for all security technology operations within the city, such as virtual CCTV patrols and remote access capabilities. Our industry would work hand-in-hand with the Public Security divisions all around the country to be actively involved in the education and installation of proven, reliable security technology. This would have an immediate impact today, not in 2025.
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