A New Approach to Public Safety
Business Executives for National Security (BENS) released an Issue Paper yesterday advocating for a new, networked approach to public safety. This approach focuses on the development of public/private partnerships to improve America’s ability to address an increasingly complex threat environment. This bottom-up approach to threat detection and information sharing could pave the way for significant progress in America’s approach to public safety. Below is an excerpt from the Executive Summary of the paper.
America today is confronted by a complex array of physical threats to public safety. Technological advancements have empowered individual actors at the local level, and successful attacks, such as those in Charleston, San Bernardino, and Orlando, demonstrate an intent to produce a high level of casualties by deliberately targeting privately owned and soft targets. These kind of locally-directed, less-sophisticated attacks cannot be adequately addressed through a solely top-down or one-size-fits-all approach to public safety. Rather, public and private sector leaders must expand and deepen their horizontal partnerships through a more networked approach to public safety. Private sector practices for horizontally integrated and networked business processes may be instructive for how to effectively pursue such an approach while navigating a complex threat environment.
A more networked approach to public safety could improve the ability of stakeholders to capitalize on each other’s authorities, provide greater visibility into each partner’s information supply chain, and enable stakeholders to pursue rapid, flexible responses to perceived threats at the community level. The US public safety architecture is sprawling, composed of entities at the federal, state, and local levels of government, including nearly 800,000 law enforcement officers at over 18,000 departments across the nation. Therefore, organizing an effective and responsive public safety network among these stakeholders requires identifying key nodes and ensuring that they are adequately resourced and connected. This paper focuses on three key nodes in the US public safety network: the private sector, state and major urban area fusion centers, and state Homeland Security Advisors (HSAs), or the comparable executive state-level position.