Homeland Security by Design: A High-Stakes Game

02/07/2007 | By Barbara Nadel, FAIA

Since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina, Homeland Security and emergency management have become important areas of expertise for communities impacted by disasters and those engaged in disaster planning and response. Vincent E. Henry, CPP, PhD, associate professor and director of the Homeland Security Management Institute at Brookville, NY-based Long Island University, has established an impressive online program for a new academic discipline. In this interview, he addresses the challenges facing Homeland Security and building industry professionals, and identifies the knowledge gaps that both communities can bridge with the goals of achieving greater public safety and security.

Vincent E. Henry, CPP, PhD, is associate professor and director of the Homeland Security Management Institute of Long Island University (LIU), and holds a PhD in Criminal Justice and an M.Phil. from the City University of New York (John Jay), as well as BA and MS degrees from Long Island University (CW Post College). He is an accredited American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) Certified Protection Professional (CPP). He retired from the New York Police Department (NYPD) in 2002 following a 21-year career where he served in a variety of uniformed patrol, plainclothes investigative, management, training, and executive positions, and was Commanding Officer of the Police Commissioner’s Special Projects Unit from 1991 to 2000. In 1989, he became the first American law enforcement officer to be named a Fulbright Scholar, and spent a year in Australia studying the cross-cultural patterns of police corruption and reform as Fulbright Fellow at the Centre for Australian Public Sector Management at Griffith University.

Barbara A. Nadel, FAIA – You’ve led a very distinguished law enforcement career in the NYPD, as a 9/11 first responder, in academia, and being involved with many aspects of security. What inspired you to teach Homeland Security?
Vincent E. Henry, CPP, PhD – Although 9/11 had a profound personal and professional impact on me, I’ve always been passionate about public safety and public safety education. Within days of Sept. 11, I recognized the compelling need for new educational programs – especially at the graduate level – geared toward amplifying the levels of knowledge and skills among managers and executives in Homeland Security professions. Based upon my experience in gaining a graduate education while working full-time in a very demanding professional career, I designed the program to eliminate as many of the impediments working professionals face as possible and to maximize the value of the education we could offer.

The degree is also given entirely in an asynchronous (without time constraints) online format, since our student population of working professionals do not typically work conventional hours. Even if they lived in the New York area (where LIU is physically based), their professional responsibilities might not permit them to attend traditionally scheduled, face-to-face classes. Asynchronous online education also allows us to bring in the perspectives and expertise of the best faculty and students from across the country and around the world – we aren’t limited to New Yorkers. Our students include senior FBI agents from the National Capitol Region, military officers on ships based in Guam, troops on the ground in Central Asia, and police, law enforcement, emergency managers, and educators from around the country. They each have a unique and valuable perspective on the Homeland Security enterprise, and the asynchronous online format facilitates dialogue.

Homeland Security and the Building Industry
What role does the building industry – especially building owners, facility managers, architects, and engineers – play in Homeland Security?
The building industry is an integral part of Homeland Security, and we are developing specialized graduate courses built around their particular interests and needs. We hope to have that curriculum completed and ready for the fall 2007 or spring 2008 semester, and the course or courses will focus on both design issues and operations. Architects and the construction industry play a central role in public safety, and the salience of that role is becoming more and more evident as clients become more concerned with the protection of people and property.

We are offering training programs this spring in planning for building evacuation. New York City’s Local Law 26 of 2004 (an amendment to the NYC Building Code) requires that security and fire safety directors of large buildings be trained in building evacuation, and the law offers tax incentives for each member of the safety staff who receives the training. The institute is affiliated with one of the 10 entities authorized to provide that specialized training, which we will offer under the institute’s auspices. The institute is also planning specialized courses in the area of school and school building security.

You’ve mentioned that 9/11 has had little impact on the academic community regarding new programs addressing disaster planning and response. How can schools of architecture and engineering incorporate security and Homeland Security design issues? Are these areas best left to continuing education after people have gotten professional licenses and are in the workforce, or should they be part of degree programs and licensing exams?
I find it distressing that 9/11 apparently had such little impact on the academic community, including schools of architecture and design. Clearly, issues of building design and construction were prominent in public discussions of the 9/11 attacks, as evidenced by the numerous studies and commentaries about the capacity of the World Trade Center to withstand the attacks. To my knowledge, there have been relatively few courses instituted in architecture schools relative to designing and constructing buildings that are resistant to terrorist attack. While I appreciate the difficulty of developing and implementing new building codes, I also find it distressing that the City of New York, in particular, has taken so long to implement some very basic requirements that could dramatically improve safety and survivability in the event of disaster.

I also believe that these issues should be addressed through continuing education, and perhaps a concerted effort on the part of professional organizations is required. I’m not an architect, and I certainly appreciate the fact that because this is a relatively new area of concern for the fields of architecture and design the courses cannot (and probably should not) be hastily cobbled together, but even as a layman it seems clear to me that the need for this education is compelling. The Homeland Security Management Institute would be more than willing to partner with schools of architecture to lend whatever expertise we might offer in developing such curriculum.

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