College Essay Examples


What is Homeland Security?


Due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent public outcry over insufficient government scrutiny over preventing such a tragedy, a need arose to combine the different mandates of disparate agencies into a cohesive whole to combat a non-traditional threat. This resulted in the consolidation of responsibilities from bodies such as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, Citizenship and Immigration Services and other such agencies into the Department of Homeland Security.

On the national level, the mandate of the DHS is to ensure that the U.S. homeland is secure from potential terrorist threats and other similar hazards that could potentially harm American citizens. State-level DHS agencies, while subject to the same overarching need to protect American citizens, they have their own individual prerogatives based on each of their unique circumstances (Calabresi, Berenson, & Rebala, 2015). For example, in the case of Arizona, while its state-level DHS program is always on the lookout for potential terrorist threats, its proximity to the U.S. – Mexican border has resulted in a focus towards enhancing border security due to the illegal trafficking of drugs and people from Mexico into the United States.

The activities of drug cartels that operate in many of Mexico’s border towns and cities are considered as a threat to homeland security given the number of deaths that have resulted from fights among the different cartels as well as many criminals from Mexico getting into the country via the various routes used by human traffickers.

The Dynamic Threat Environment

Fortunately, Arizona is not considered as a high-priority target for terrorists given its location, lack of structures critical to the U.S. economy as well as the relatively widespread layout of its cities. However, international terrorists are not the only threat that the DHS is concerned with, other potential hazards come in the form of cross-border criminal activity which is, unfortunately, a real threat to the safety and security of residents in Arizona. As explained in the previous section, the proximity of the U.S. – Mexican border leaves Arizona vulnerable to criminal activity from Mexico making its way into the state’s towns and cities (Larence, 2009).

The primary DHS hazard that the state will experience due to this is an influx of illegal immigrants and drugs (Goodwin, 2016). Many of the drug cartels in Mexico smuggle some of their members into the country, alongside other illegal immigrants, so that they can manage the delivery and sale of drugs within the country. This is, of course, a significant concern for the DHS since these activities have led to increased gang violence, more drugs being distributed which leads to more addicts and a rise in organized crime (Goodwin, 2016). The primary critical structure of concern within the state is the border which is 3,201 kilometers long and acts as one of the major gateways for drugs to enter the country.

Threat Analysis, Indication Systems, and Warnings

When it comes to identifying threats associated with hazards that were just mentioned, the AZDOHS typically coordinates with local law enforcement departments to investigate where the flow of drugs within Arizona. Indication systems in this regard come in the form of arrests, tips from local informants and other associated information sources so that the agency can determine where the operations of cartels in local areas is situated.

There is no “warning” system in place so to speak when it comes to cartel activities; however, through observation and investigation, a pattern can be determined regarding the flow of drugs which can help the AZDOHS and other coordinating agencies to determine the exact location where drug deals are occurring and where the movement of narcotics is from. Other sources of information come from illegal immigrants that have been caught who are interrogated and give the necessary information.

Presently, there are three major projects that have been implemented by the Arizona State Department of Homeland Security (AZDOHS) to specifically address the issue of the illegal trafficking of people and drugs across the border. These tools can be utilized by the governor to monitor how the hazards mentioned in the previous section are being handled, what is the current rate of progress and what measures need improvement based on statics on illegal border activity.

The first project is the Arizona Human Trafficking Council that was supported in 2013 by the previous governor, Jan Brewer. The purpose of this project is to coordinate efforts to obtain data on illegal human traffic from across the border and help to coordinate efforts to assist victims of such a practice (Finkel, 2016). It is also used to implement collaborative practices across different agencies and law enforcement districts to speed up efforts and data sharing, as well as raise the awareness of the general public regarding the issue. Through the efforts of the AHTC, the governor can know the level of illegal human trafficking that is occurring and what is being done to prevent it.

The second project implemented by the AZDOHS to mitigate the identified hazard is the Threat Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (THIRA) and the State Preparedness Report (SPR). Created in collaboration between the Arizona Division of Emergency Management and the AZDOHS, these reports showcase the current level of preparedness and compliance of different agencies, whether state, Federal or even the private sector, to the rules and responsibilities surround the mitigation of illegal human and narcotic trafficking. This resource enables the governor to know what is the current level of preparedness of the different agencies within the state, which parties can be considered as “lacking” and what can be done to mitigate the issue.

The last project is the Homeland Security Grant Program which allows the AZDOHS to fund a variety of different efforts project based on how it contributes to its strategy in resolving the identified hazards. For example, one use of these funds has been by border patrols when it came to purchasing new cars, night vision cameras and an assortment of other tools to help catch traffickers in the act. Through projects like these, programs that have budget deficits can gain the necessary equipment or hire the needed personnel to increase their overall effectiveness resulting in better outcomes.

While the governor is not directly responsible for choosing which programs to fund and how much funding should be allocated, he/she is informed of what agencies do receive the funding based on annual reports that can be requested from the AZDOHS. This helps the governor determine potential funding gaps and where they could potentially allocate more discretionary state funds.

What to Do During Emergencies?

A governor declaring a state of emergency is often subject to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) which contains a set of guidelines, an incident command system as well as a multi-agency coordination system that enables immediate response to events depending on their nature. Before declaring any state of emergency, governors are legally required to examine the current guidelines set by NIMS and coordinate with the necessary agency in charge for that particular type of event before any announcements can be made. NIMS ensures that a stable command structure is in place before any public response to the declaration (Scott & Coleman, 2016). This helps to mitigate any negative response and ensures that the necessary coordinating agencies are there to help those that have been adversely affected.< Are you asking for someone to Write My Essay for Me ? >

For example, during natural disasters the governor is required by NIMS to coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to implement the established protocols for that type of natural disaster (ex: flooding). Under NIMS, there are also instances where coordination with different agencies is required as seen in the September 2016 shooting of an African American in Charlotte, North Carolina by police officers which sparked a huge riot in the city.

This required the governor to declare a state of emergency so that additional assistance from assets such as the National Guard and the Highway Patrol can be brought in to help quell the riots. Incidents like this show that NIMS is not exclusive to natural disasters; rather, it can be used in a wide array of circumstances and should be used immediately by a governor should they encounter any incident that is beyond the ability of local agencies to handle.

It should be noted that there are cases (ex: natural disasters) that may necessitate additional funding or resources to help with the cost of damages that occurred. One way in which a governor can get these funds or resources is through the Emergency Support Functions (ESF) via agencies like FEMA who can provide services such as emergency funding, resource management and even temporary shelters for individuals that have been affected by the natural disaster (Adam, Stiles, Zimdars, Timmons, & Leung, 2013). Once again, being able to request an ESF is subject to the rules and guidelines under NIMS and, as such, it is highly recommended that a governor examine the various functions, protocols and requirements for emergency fund acquisition before making any request.< Need an Essay Writing Service? >

This is due to the legal and functional responsibilities attached to the use of this type of funding. It is often the case that governors are required to give an outline of where the funds are to be allocated to, how much is needed for each endeavor, what types of resources are going to be necessary and the means by which suppliers are to be vetted (Goodwin, 2016). These are all necessary due to the potential for personal enrichment that may come about through the misallocation of these funds.

Understanding the Homeland Security Structure

To prepare you for your role as governor, it also necessary for you to know how the current homeland security structure works and how this can assist you during a crisis. One of the simplest ways of seeing how this works is via the chart located below.

   Coordination in the structure works via a top-down approach wherein each regional office is subject to the rules and guidelines set by the National Homeland Security Agency which also controls the regulations of the U.S. Customs Service, the Border Patrol (which is of particular importance to Arizona) and the Coast Guard. During emergencies, information from the regional offices is directed to the National Crisis Center which then issues directives in response to the type of threat that is currently in place (Currie, 2016). This can range from critical infrastructure protection to emergency preparedness and response.

However, the case of Arizona is somewhat “unique” since the most likely threat that the state will experience under DHS guidelines is large shipments of drugs and people illegally going through the border. In this case, if the regional office receives a tip from a source regarding the transport of a large group of individuals or drugs or the presence of a tunnel connecting the U.S. to Mexico where such goods are carried through, the information is coordinated by the Counter-Narcotics Enforcement Department and National Crisis Action Center.< Click Essay Writer to order your essay >

At this point, the NCAC and CNE contacts the border patrol (since most of these tunnels are located close to the border) and then has the regional office coordinate other local agencies to assist in raiding the home or place where the tunnel is supposedly located. While this information does not touch on potential terrorist actions that may occur in Arizona, it does delve into activities that have occurred and are more likely to happen in the future rather than something that has a very low chance of happening.

Reference List
Adam, N., Stiles, R., Zimdars, A., Timmons, R., & Leung, J. (2013). Consequence Analysis of  Complex Events on Critical U.S. Infrastructure. Communications Of The ACM56(6),83-9

Calabresi, M., Berenson, T., & Rebala, P. (2015). The Price of Security. Time186(24), 44-50.

Currie, C. P. (2016). Strengthening Regional Coordination Could Enhance Preparedness  Efforts. GAO Reports, 1.

Finkel, E. (2016). Critical Infrastructure Sector Battles Growing Variety of Threats. Security:          Solutions For Enterprise Security Leaders53(8), 60-63.

Goodwin, G. L. (2016). HUMAN TRAFFICKING Agencies Have Taken Steps to Assess  Prevalence, Address Victim Issues, and Avoid Grant Duplication. GAO Reports, 1.

Larence, E. (2009). Better Coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and an Updated Accountability Framework Can Further Enhance DEA’s Efforts to Meet Post-9/11 Responsibilities. GAO Reports, 1.

Scott, J., & Coleman, M. (2016). Reaching the unreached: Building resilience through  engagement with diverse communities. Journal Of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning9(4), 359-374.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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