Even given the federal government’s love for departments, bureaus, and layers upon layers of bureaucracy, homeland security was an issue of no overwhelming import and even less governmental glamour before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
All that has changed, rather dramatically, and now Long Island University is aiming to be a significant player in the continued evolution of the field.
The university, which still maintains graduate programs at its campus in Southampton, recently opened The Homeland Security Management Institute, and has begun accepting students for the Fall 2005 semester. Students who complete 15 credits worth of classes will receive an Advanced Certificate in Homeland Security Management. A masters program is scheduled to begin in 2006.
Improving communication, developing a better, more responsive system of management, and creating greater consistency and flexibility within the field of homeland security are some of the principal goals of the Institute.
Four years after the 9/11 attacks, the federal government’s Homeland Security Department alone has a budget of more than $33 billion and employs 183,000 people, and the industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the public and private economies.
But the fledgling field, within and outside governmental auspices, lacks consistency in training and practice. LIU’s program, the first in New York State, hopes to use education to help overcome some of the perceived shortcomings of homeland security practice.
A Policeman And A Professor
The Institute is the brainchild of Vincent Henry, a 21-year veteran of the New York City Police Department and a longtime resident of East Quogue, who will serve as an associate professor and the director of the Institute. Henry, who holds a Ph.D in Criminal Justice and served as commanding officer of the police commissioner’s Office of Management Analysis and Planning’s Special Projects Unit from 1991 to 2000, said the program grew out of discussions with David Steinberg, the president of LIU. The two men agreed that the graduate program could best serve the middle management, whom Henry described as “the most critical layer in homeland security” and as “the real decision makers.”
Henry cited improved communication across organizational lines and amongst members of middle management, as a key factor in strengthening and streamlining homeland security practice. Agencies, both public and private, tend to be isolated from each other, each with their own plans and vernacular. “They may be using the same words and not actually talking about the same thing,” Henry said.
Interaction within the field has improved since September 11, Henry said. “In fairness, the situation as it existed September 10, 2001 and exists now is vastly different. But there is still tremendous room for improvement.” Better education to help ensure that the breakdown of communication that occurred before and during the attacks don’t occur again is a goal of the program.
Homeland security “as an academic discipline is a very vague concept,” Henry said, but he will draw on his experience with the NYPD to shape the direction of the program. Henry was instrumental in developing the NYPD’s Compstat management system, which, he said, allows for “a more strategic and tactical use of information in real time.”
It gave people at all levels of the department greater discretion to act on information, leading to a dramatic fall in crime rates. The nimbleness of response that the Compstat program brought to the NYPD is something that Henry would like to see applied to the homeland security field as a whole.
Pragmatic goals aside, Henry said the program and those involved will also seek to protect civil liberties. “Nothing would undermine the work that everyone is doing so much as an egregious violation of civil liberties,” he said. “This is all about protecting American civil liberties.”
In order to accommodate the busy schedule of their targeted demographic, the classes will be conducted online because “the nature of their work is very unpredictable, very changeable,” Henry said. “They don’t have the luxury of being able to say that ‘I can commit to being in a classroom.’” It will also allow the program to develop a national base of students.
In Henry’s view, the asynchronous nature of the online dialogue allows for a greater depth of discussion because no questions get lost in the shuffle. “Everyone is in on all the conversations,” he said.
The discussions and readings will emphasize a case-study approach to learning. Among the five classes that will be offered the first semester are Constitutional Issues in Homeland Security Management, Domestic and International Terrorism, Homeland Security and the Private Sector, and The Intelligence Function in Homeland Security Management.
The Board of Advisors and the Senior Fellows of the Institute draw heavily on the expertise of the NYPD, which has received much praise for the changes it has made since the 9/11 attacks. Senior fellows, who will shoulder the teaching load, include Henry, Leo Callaghan, the recently retired special consul to the NYPD’s Deputy Inspector for Intelligence, Frank G. Straub, the current Director of Public Safety for White Plains and the former NYPD Assistant Commissioner for Counter-terrorism, and Dr. Keith Bryett, an international consultant on terrorism and law enforcement. William J. Bratton, the former NYPD Police Commissioner and the current Police Commissioner for the Los Angeles Police Department and Dan Mullin, a retired NYPD deputy chief and current director of security for Major League Baseball, are on the Board of Directors.
Henry emphasized the mixture of academic training and real world experience that the Senior Fellows and the members of the Board of Advisors share. “Our people have read 400 books and they’ve also done the work,” Henry said. “They can understand the subtleties and the nuances” that a purely academic approach may work might miss.
He continued, “Our overall goal, as reflected in our faculty, as reflected in our philosophy and in our curriculum is to unite theory and practice.”