In anticipation of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered this message to New York City: “Homeland security is hometown security.”
Speaking to an audience of approximately 200 people at the NYU Brennan Center for Justice on June 7, she outlined how DHS tactics have evolved over the past 10 years to emphasize the responsibility of local law enforcement and private citizens to prevent future attacks. DHS operates 72 “fusion centers” nationwide that synchronize intelligence efforts among federal, state and local law enforcement, according to Napolitano. These centers have become information hubs to train police and other first responders how to identify, detect and investigate possible terrorist activity.
Napolitano also highlighted the expansion of New York City’s own “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign, which urges citizens to report suspicious activity to law enforcement. DHS now uses that campaign and slogan, which debuted on Sept. 12, 2001, nationwide. It was the brainchild of Manhattan ad agency Korey Kay & Partners. Napolitano stressed that citizen engagement in counter-terrorism has a real impact, citing a study that found that private citizens helped to foil one-third of 74 terrorist plots thwarted since 1999.
“Our greatest source of strength and our greatest sense of security will ultimately rest not with any machinery, not with any technology, not with any one federal department, but with the citizens of our country,” said Napolitano.