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Strategies for Addressing Homeland Security Threats

What are the hidden ties between Homeland Security and private security partnerships? How can these alliances strategically protect our critical infrastructures and soft targets? Our guest for today's episode, Dr. Kenneth Christopher, an esteemed professional in Homeland Security and Emergency Management, lifts the veil on these intricate correlations. As academic program director at National University, his well-founded perspective uncovers the pressing need for these collaborations, demonstrating how they can effectively address threats to critical infrastructure.

The conversation takes an exciting turn as we venture into the realm of protecting critical infrastructure and soft targets. We dissect the importance of intelligence sharing and anticipation of future events, and the role they play in security planning. The concept of ‘Black Swan’ events grabs our focus, stirring a thought-provoking perspective on these unexpected occurrences. Dr. Christopher and I dive deep into the strategies and challenges involved in protecting soft targets, specifically zeroing in on public education as a critical tool in enhancing situational awareness.

As we wrap up our discussion, we unravel the importance of fostering trust and encouraging communication in security partnerships. Dr. Christopher imparts invaluable advice on how leadership can create an environment that encourages understanding and collaboration. This episode stands as a testament to the vital role of knowledge sharing in crime prevention, and the pivotal role advanced training and planning play in achieving these objectives. Join us as we navigate this riveting discussion with Dr. Kenneth Christopher.

Show Notes

  • 0:00:29 - Homeland Security and Emergency Management Discussion (82 Seconds)
  • 0:02:30 - Law Enforcement to Higher Ed Transition (103 Seconds)
  • 0:10:29 - Collaborative Efforts to Address Crime and Store Closures (122 Seconds)
  • 0:17:53 - Challenges of Protecting Soft Targets (121 Seconds)
  • 0:24:40 - Situational Awareness and Protecting Soft Targets (130 Seconds)
  • 0:33:33 - Collaborating With Law Enforcement for Red Teaming (66 Seconds)

ANNOUNCER: You are listening to the National University Podcast.

0:00:01 - Kimberly King

Hello, I'm Kimberly King. Welcome to the National University Podcast, where we offer a holistic approach to student support, well-being and success - the whole human education. We put passion into practice by offering accessible, achievable higher education to lifelong learners. Today we're discussing Homeland Security and Emergency Management. According to the Department of Homeland Security, emergency management and Homeland Security are closely linked to professional fields that both address a complex set of challenges related to hazard risk reduction and resilience capacity promotion. Hazards can be natural, technological or intentional human acts. A very interesting conversation coming up today.

On today's episode, we're discussing Homeland Security and Emergency Management and we're joined by Dr. Kenneth Christopher. Dr. Christopher is a professor and an academic program director for Homeland Security and Emergency Management at National University. He previously worked for 28 years in law enforcement, completing service as a captain within the Miami-Dade Police Department and as chief of seaport security enforcement of the Port of Miami, Florida. He's worked with the US Maritime Administration at the Inter-American Port Security Training Program and has consulted on and developed educational programs in seaport security, criminal justice and security administration, terrorism and domestic preparedness, community safety, police management and organizational behavior. We welcome him to the podcast. Dr. Christopher, how are you. What an impressive background. Thank you for your service.

0:01:55 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Thank you. When you say it out loud like that, it reminds me how long I've been doing stuff. So thank you very much.

0:02:03 - Kimberly King

Absolutely, boy. What a time to be in this and teaching this, which is I come from my family's all law enforcement, so I really appreciate and see you. I think it's great what you do, but it's also a good time to really showcase what you're doing and let other people know. So why don't you fill our audience a little bit about your mission and your work before we get to today's show?

0:02:27 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Right. So well. I've been a full-time educator in higher ed 17 years since I left my previous career in law enforcement. So I was very goal-oriented.

During my career in the police department I worked on my graduate degrees, my doctorate, and I started teaching part-time and the work I was doing, particularly in the last 10 years in Miami-Dade, was heavily involved in Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

I mean, I was a police lieutenant, I was a captain, but I was also in charge of security at the Port of Miami. Even before I started working for the Port of Miami we had a police contingent out there and then I was there before the September 2001 terrorist attacks and then the aftermath and then the several years later. So I was very involved in developing and implementing new regulations and oversight of security in the maritime and the port security environment. And when I got to a point where I wanted to segue into higher ed and go to full-time, I gravitated towards programs and criminal justice that emphasized security and particularly Homeland Security. And I wound up coming to National University because they did actually have two degree programs of bachelors and a master's in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. So I kind of fell into what I'm doing now, really based on my career trajectory in the police department and just my interest in teaching and sharing the information and the knowledge I developed over the years.

0:04:09 - Kimberly King

Good for you. And again, boy, what a relevant time to be doing this. I think my husband always says the pendulum is going to swing back a little bit. But I think, just really opening up what it is that policing and it has changed a lot but just really making sure that we are not just looking at it from one angle. Today we're talking about Homeland Security and Emergency Management. So I guess my first question would be what are the functions of private security and public police partnerships within Homeland Security?

0:04:41 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, it's interesting because, I would you know, going back now, 20 plus years to - the 9-11 event was really a paradigm shifting period in our history, particularly in terms of the relationship between security and police.

Private security has had this traditional idea of being just, you know, some night watchman jingling a set of keys, you know, shaking doors at the warehouse and so forth, and police were the ones that were called when they needed to make arrests and do investigations. When it became important for the critical infrastructure airports, seaports, railroads, hospitals you know the concern about the threats in those soft target environments really emphasized the need for police to work much more closely with the private security interests to make sure that there was at least collaboration in terms of the threat assessments and the needs for developing protective mechanisms in those environments. So that's what's happened over the last 20 years. Particularly as we've moved now into cyber threats and threats to the information technology field, it really is important for the public sector, right - government, local government, state government, federal government - to work much more closely with the private sector in protecting these assets and in dealing with these threats.

0:06:07 - Kimberly King

So, and that is true, you know, I'm learning all about this as well, as now both of my children are also in law enforcement. And again, the public and the private. What are the benefits of public sector, police and private security partnerships?

0:06:22 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, it's really about having a common perspective on the threat scenario and what's coming down the pike. It's very, you know, sometimes it's very easy for a police department or just any government agency to go about its mission. You know whether that's the sanitation department, the water department, the libraries. You kind of just do what you know, what the government you know, and the playbook is about doing it. But when you have to actually go into, you know, environments that are particularly I mean when you think about it most critical infrastructure you think about transportation across the United States, airports, seaports, aviation most of it is in the hands of the private sector, it's business operations, right? So police just can't walk into an environment and think they can understand what the threat you know scenario is in that environment without talking or dealing with them. That's why advanced collaboration and networking with those you know, if it's large employers or large facilities it's important for law enforcement to have a good fix on what's going on in that environment. So that's why collaboration is very important.

0:07:33 - Kimberly King

It's a really good point and I grant across the board, not just in law enforcement, but yeah, if your boots on the ground for sure. Why might law enforcement agencies be reluctant to engage in partnerships with private security organizations?

0:07:49 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Oh well, when there's a concern about the sharing of information that might be, you know, otherwise used by what I would call scoundrels and the bad guy right out there, it's not that there is a lack of trust, there's a concern that sharing of information, particularly information that may be sensitive, classified, you know, for law enforcement purposes only, if it's shared too widely in a non law enforcement environment, it's possible that the information could be, you know, used you know in advance of nefarious, you know, activities. So there's that kind of reluctance about that and that's one of the biggest challenges is, you know, developing that trust to be able to share information, and it's really not just law enforcement, If you think about it. Private organizations, I mean, they're in a competitive environment. If they share too much information outside the scope of their business, competitors can use that information as well to kind of, you know, compete with them at a higher level, you know. So it works on both sides for developing that trust.

0:09:02 - Kimberly King

Right, and actually that leads right into my next question. That is about how law enforcement agencies benefit private security organizations in protecting those assets and preventing crime.

0:09:14 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, if you think about private security I mean you know, typically when we think about you know, if you think about all the places you go where you see security, if you go to the football game, you go to a concert, you go to a hospital, you go wherever you see security people at their main role is to basically deter and detect, right.

There's a limitation in what actions they can take, what can they do, right. So there's a lot of resistance, for example, from letting private security actually approach and apprehend people Like you know. If you think about shoplifting and people you know stealing from the local grocery store for liability purposes, most organizations don't really want their security people to challenge and apprehend and deter people. You know what you want is law enforcement to be able to come in and do what traditional law enforcement does, which is the deterrence, the detection, the public, you know keeping the public order, but also launching the criminal investigations and the apprehensions that would bring people to justice. That's the legal authority that police have that private security does not. So that's why it's important to have these connectivities so that you know they can lay the groundwork and have the- you know, the layout of what is going to happen, you know, in terms of bringing in police and in a security environment.

0:10:38 - Kimberly King

Right, you know I'm just thinking because we're in California and I just keep reading about all of these stores that are closing and just the- You know it's an unbelievable crime rate that we're dealing with right now.*

0:10:53 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

So well, yeah, well, that's a challenge. I mean that's going to be a challenge. You know the news. I mean we all see the news reports of these gangs of, you know, thieves breaking into stores, mobs and so forth. But I mean it's like a lot of other problems that don't have a ready solution. It really takes that planning.

I mean I remember years ago in Miami, tourists were being robbed as they were getting their rental cars at the airport. Well, turns out, they had the rental car agencies in a dark section across the street. It wasn't really in the airport. People were getting lost, but what happened was law enforcement, the state, the car rental agencies, the tourism interests got together and figured out a plan because that, you know, people weren't coming to Florida because they were being scared away. So when there's a problem that's novel and new, what it takes is, you know, the leadership of these organizations that have a vested interest to come together and think about a plan for dealing with it. And I'm sure there's plans afoot now, you know, between the Home Depot's of the world and the grocery stores and the Walgreens, and local agencies and state agencies to come up with it. Because we can't you know we can't go on where everything is going to be robbed and stores are going to close. There has to be a response and a lot of that comes with that working together.

0:12:16 - Kimberly King

Well, and I love that, yeah, you really are talking about what is going on behind the scenes. What can we do, you know? And so there's one thing about talking about it. There's the action, as I said, the boots on the ground and that collaboration. So those, what strengths do those collaborations with the private sector bring to the mission of law enforcement organizations?

0:12:40 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, a lot of times it could be something, as you know, just basic as technology.

When you think about it, think of all the cameras that are out there, that you know, even private residences now everybody has a camera outside their house, inside their house, and businesses now are.

I would say that there's a lot of opportunity for government, public sector interests to collaborate with private sector interests that are using this technology in smart ways. Right, I remember years ago at the port, when I was at the port of Miami and I was dealing a lot with the cruise lines right, the passenger cruise lines and what I found as a I was a police officer, well, I was a manager, but, you know, working with the cruise lines and also the shippers, the private container operators, they had lots of technology and smarts going on. So what I'm saying is you know, don't just think just because you know the police are there. They know all everything that's going on in terms of technology and how it's used. Private sector has a lot of things to bring to the problem and a lot of times, it's really just about sharing the knowledge and also collaborating in ways to leverage the technology to help each other, you know, accomplish what they want to.

0:13:56 - Kimberly King

And again another great point that we just don't necessarily really think about, but yeah, they've been the ones that I've been dealing with- they know the layout, they know you know who's coming in and where it's- yeah, they know everything, so it's great for those... What are the differences between a police officer and a private security officer? And I guess one other thing are they armed, or does it really just to kind of depend on where these private security officers are?

0:14:25 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

It depends. You know, private security in the United States is not something that's regulated by the federal government. There are no standards. When you think about police officers in every state and there's 50 states plus the territories they all have a set of standards and requirements, training requirements that officers have to go to go through before they're certified and allowed to go out on the street and enforce the law. Private sector security, to a great extent, is not regulated in that way. There are guidelines in certain in most states about, you know, licensing requirements and training is not, is certainly not as robust that it is for law enforcement. So the difference is that private- I mean private security really has no more power than the average citizen in terms of you know, apprehending people and you can't bring some. You can't arrest somebody you know and bring them to jail, but that's what the police do. So the difference is that police have the authority to initiate and bring someone into the criminal justice system, to initiate a prosecution where the where private sector does not.

0:15:34 - Kimberly King

Okay, and that's another good point. I mean, they are sworn police officers that do go through the training, so yeah, that's, that's a big major difference. There as well, are there regulations or laws governing how private security officers are trained, managed or deployed and you just said it's not necessarily. Yeah, it's just, and it's a completely different situation. But have there been changes made for the training for private security officers?

0:16:01 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, I would say again, going back to the 9-11 incident really was a motivator in terms of recognizing the need to raise the, the proficiency level of security, particularly in the area of what we call critical infrastructure in the United States.

You know those, those areas that are so important to the United States economy that you know their compromise could, you know, not only you know hurt people, kill people and cause injury, but they could also cause great economic damage. So what happened was, particularly at the federal level, the national government passed a number of laws the aviation transportation security, maritime transportation and across the board, in a number of different sectors where requirements for private security were reviewed and, in some cases, strengthened and enhanced to make them more aware of their responsibilities. And protecting the assets, particularly when it comes to things, like you know, deal at airports right, maintaining the security of the restricted areas so that only the people authorized, you know, access can get through, and that's why it was important to reinforce those, the needs. So there's been improvements in training and requirements at the federal level, but also many states and local jurisdictions, particularly when you're protecting those assets, you know, recognizing that the private sector has a role to play and that it's important that they be trained and equipped to the point they can. To get to your question about yeah, there are private security who are armed. You know there's a certain level of training and proficiency involved and many cities and regions in the country, particularly like in transit, will employ private security who are armed and have duties to respond to incidents. You know, with that level of authority.

0:17:53 - Kimberly King

So I know you have talked about it a little bit, about just the post 9-11 environment, and so what are some of the challenges facing organizations tasked with protecting soft targets in this new environment, post 9-11?

0:18:06 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, it's just knowing what the threats are. You know, and part of the collaboration is having what we would call a common risk perspective, right, or a commonist you know when you assess the risks or the threats associated with any activity, or you know, or anything that a business engages in. You know. For example I'll use the example of, say, a sports venue. You know National Football League, Major League Baseball, NBA, NHL. You know, when you're operating a venue like that, what are the threats that you can anticipate, right?

Part of the problem is you know police, local police, state police, FBI, homeland security they're conducting threat assessments all the time and whether or not those threats will impact a particular environment, whether it's a sports, hospitality, recreation, commercial, transportation environment that information really has to be shared and relayed to those environments. That's why, during something as big as a Super Bowl or a Grand Prix event, you know there's a lot of collaboration and planning going on with these special events and that's the kind of collaboration that we're talking about that really, you know, should be happening on a regular basis, not just at these big special events, but at what we would call the soft targets, right, the shopping venues, the festivals, the different things where people gather, where access is really not that, you know, not that restricted. Those are the places where there's really a need to have this common threat perspective about what could be. You know what could come down the road, whether it's criminal, criminal behavior, terrorist behavior or just safety. You know, just safety and security in terms of accidents and protecting against injuries and things like that.

0:19:55 - Kimberly King

I mean, all of this is just, it's interesting, again, relevant and unfortunately it's kind of the world that we're living in. I know again, as I've been mentioning, about my family always with a head on a swivel, but also knowing where the exits are. And in light of the tragedy that just happened in Israel, I just think about the concert venue and I have heard a couple of interviews where you know the young people were running and running. Some of them got into a ditch and didn't survive. I know one of the friends of the person that kept running. She said she ran for six hours because she just kept hearing her parents' voice in her head saying when in fact something happens, run, don't go as far as you can, as fast as you can.

0:20:42 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Yeah, well, the sad thing is this most recent event is what we, you know and I didn't make this term up it comes from a book by [Nassim] Nicholas Taleb. It's called The Black Swan. The Black Swan something that doesn't happen very often in nature, right, it's something new and unusual and novel. And it's those novel events, right, 9-11 was such a novel event. And who knew, if you knew, on September 10, 2001, that people were going to be able to break into the cockpit of four airplanes? Right, they certainly wouldn't have had, you know, they would have had the protections there. It just wasn't something that was on the threat horizon, generally speaking, and we have those from time to time.

They just they occur, right, but once they do occur, you know, the perspective starts to change. I'm talking about having a common perspective. It may be people who knew, right, oh, my goodness, there's going to be an attack on a concert venue. Who knew, I don't know right, but now, and that'll come out in the debrief. But the point is it kind of highlights the need for people who have information and intelligence on certain events and possible things that might happen, to share that information so that you know they can plan in advance, because it's all about thinking about the threat and putting plans in place, you know, for future type of events. I mean, we don't have crystal balls, right, but we can use data and look at past events and think about what's going on, use the intelligence that comes in, you know, to start the plan and think about how do we protect better against future similar events.

0:22:19 - Kimberly King

All good points. This is so interesting. We have to take a quick break, Doctor, so hopefully you can just stay with us, but we will be right back, don't go away. And now back to our interview with National University's Dr. Kenneth Christopher, and we're discussing Homeland Security and, Doctor. This has been really interesting. Thank you for your perspective on this. Can you describe the terrorism threat environments associated with critical infrastructure and soft targets?

0:22:49 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Yeah, well, you know, when you think about critical infrastructure, you know, as I kind of mentioned, has to do with, you know those like transportation assets. You know our banking systems, those things that are so important, you know, to the economy of the United States that attacks or compromises of their security will have a very significant impact on, you know, our economy, our livelihood, our government and so forth. Soft targets, sometimes called soft targets, crowded places, are those areas of a community where people congregate in large numbers, where there's limited access, where restrictions to people coming and going are not typically easy to put together. So, for example, you know, if you think about large subway system, New York subway system, you know how many millions of people use a subway system. You can't you can't actually, you know, screen everybody that gets into the New York subway. You can put things in place to kind of protect the system as best you can, but you can't actually, you know, restrict access.

So why terrorism or the threat of terrorism is, so you know is so critical in terms of these soft targets is that you know people who want to do bad things can access and infiltrate those areas. And not only that, they can do reconnaissance, they can do prior. You know surveillance they can. They can look and see what. You know what, what kind of security exists they can assess. You know how easy it is to come and go, to get out of the area. So that's why they are attractive targets in terms of terrorists or even, or even major criminal behaviors not just the terrorists, but even people who just want to commit, you know, regular old crime, as I call it.

0:24:35 - Kimberly King

Yeah, and what is regular anymore? Huh, oh my gosh. Can you explain the unfortunate? Can you explain the process or developing situational awareness of that terrorism threat?

0:24:51 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, the process is multifaceted.

I mean my experience, particularly when I was the facility security officer at the Port of Miami in the aftermath, you know, in the years after 9-11, so our ability to develop what we would call situational awareness of the threat of terrorism really had to do with working together with partners, For example, the US Coast Guard, the federal agencies, customs and border protections, state agencies that had worked there, but also the private sector, security, the major cruise lines all had robust security operations that would, obviously, if they have organizations and employees and they know what's going on in their field, you kind of come together and what we would do actually is have regular I mean regular weekly, sometimes more than weekly meetings with these groups to kind of try to put together what we think are the most likely threats.

So, whether it was suicide, terrorism, bomb threats, you know people who want to do harm, you know that's what situational awareness is having a constant understanding, updated as best you can all the time, in terms of what the threat environment really is. So what do we want to protect against? Because we may only have a finite amount of money, resources, police security equipment, technology to put on the target, but we don't want to put our assets all in one place if perhaps the threat is coming from somewhere else. So that's why having situational awareness of the environment is very important.

0:26:34 - Kimberly King

Again, it's such a really relevant thing that we're talking about this, but and you kind of talked a little bit about what soft targets are earlier but can you, can you kind of expand on that and how difficult it is to protect them?

0:26:48 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Yeah, well, it is. Because I mean, for example, a police department in any, any medium sized city, right, I mean, I live in a city in the Western part of the United States, not the largest city by far but if they want to put on a festival or a you know, a large concert, outdoor type concert where you know anybody can come maybe it's a free event, you know. So they have to think about everything from access control to managing the traffic coming in and out, getting people from their cars into the venue, back to the cars. So what you have to do really is think about, well, what do we need to control? Because they're not just, you know, you're not just trying to prevent. You know, you are obviously trying to prevent bad actors from entering the venue, but you also have to enable people to get to and from the venue in their cars by walking, by public transportation.

So a lot of that has to do with thinking about how an event or an operation is going to work. So when you talk about soft target security, it's really trying to have a very realistic picture of what your event or your environment is going to look like during this planned you know thing that happens, but more, I mean more routinely than that. I mean there are shopping centers all over the place. Downtown districts have entertainment, hospitality, collect people go. They go to restaurants, they go to cafes, they go to you know they come and go. I mean, protecting that environment really is about, you know, thinking about you're going to have large groups of people coming and going. The potential for something happening is there. You know parades, you name it Right.

0:28:31 - Kimberly King

Right, and I think as long as you're also, you know, really educating people, you know you have students, students have family members, parents, kids, you know, as long as people are talking about that and just again, really kind of knowing that it's just not the same world that we used to live in, you know, and safety should be a conversation within your yeah, I mean listen, and it's natural to be, you know, to be apprehensive.

0:28:59 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

For example, if you, I mean, we've had them, right, we've had, you know, multiple mass shootings and things like movie theaters, right, right, and you know, I don't know, I even thought, well, do I really want to go to a movie theater, I mean, and it shouldn't be like that, right, so you know, but just because you had one shooting in a movie theater or you do have school shootings, does that mean that's where the next one is going to happen? No, that's why it's important to have situational awareness and an understanding of threat in multiple types of environments. Right Now, I can't put cop on every corner or police or security everywhere, but you have to kind of think about what are the most likely threats, and that's what we do in threat assessment. We look at. We look at things like the threat.

So whether it's, you know, people armed with guns, that's a threat, right. And it's about the vulnerabilities of the environment. So it's an open system, right, people can come and go, that's a weakness, that's vulnerability, right. And the other thing is likelihood, probability, what are, you know, what's the possibility, what's the likelihood that that's going to happen sometime? That is a function of, like looking at past events, what other groups are doing. You know around the world trying to assess that information to see whether or not it makes sense to change your planning or your security posture based on what's going on in the past. But you know some of it is science and some of it is art. You know it's really thinking about and again it's managing your assets and planning in advance to the best of your ability to make the venue as safe as practical.

0:30:36 - Kimberly King

You know, and I just was even recalling, I worked for the airlines years ago and I remember flying into Germany I believe this was before 9-11 and I just was really kind of taken back by the, you know, the AK-47, the guns like just you saw that security presence as soon as you landed and it was again before 9-11 and now we are talking about this because of 9-11. As you said, it just really changed the way the United States has shown up and thank goodness, but again a whole different world and I think Europe, you know, had been dealing with that prior to when it really hit the US, at least in a busy way.

0:31:15 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

I mean, you know, I remember hijackings and airport Incursions in Europe in the 70s and pretty, pretty serious and deadly events. I remember the Rome Airport had a had a major, you know, armed people coming in shooting up the terminal. So, yeah, so, and what happens with that is- Obviously they change the security posture and it looked different than what we were doing in the United States. But even what we're doing in the United States now is very different than pre 9-11. In fact, I was just reading an article the history of airport security over the last 30 years. I don't know if you remember. I mean you could literally just without a boarding pass, you know, go through kind of a rudimentary metal detector, right, and you know, go to the gate-

0:32:06 - Kimberly King

Year right. Yeah, the flight leaves in five minutes, let's get on there. That would never happen anymore.

0:32:11 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Yeah, right. So that's what happens. I mean the posture changes based on. Well, now, you know you couldn't do that and so you know, hopefully the, the mechanisms and the posture we have in place at airports is doing the job. I mean, so far it seems to be doing. We haven't had a major, you know, aviation related terrorist event since 9-11. But you know- who know, I mean the technology, is always evolving and the bag, the bad guys, are not-

You know, the 9-11 people don't get me wrong, I'm not, I'm not, you know, saying they were great. Certainly not great, but they were smart. I mean they use their knowledge, skills. They actually operated, I mean, a whole training regimen and they managed it. I mean, and that was something we didn't see coming down the road, right it was… We didn't see the sophistication of that operation, so that the, the mindset has changed now, obviously, 20 plus years later, but who knows what people are thinking now? Right, I mean, they're using their skills out there. People are taking advantage of, just like we take advantage of technology to protect ourselves. You know people who are, you know, don't care about that, or are going to use that same technology to try to overcome what we put in place. So you got to stay one step ahead as best you can.

0:33:25 - Kimberly King

Yeah, get into their brains, I guess, and that's what your training has done, and you know, just yeah, try to stay one step ahead.

0:33:33 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, we, used to do- We used to do something the military does call red teaming.

Red teaming is basically sending a, sending a group in to try to compromise the security on purpose, right, and you know you, what you do is you're looking for the holes, you're looking for the weak spots in your print. So whether it's a security officer is not checking a credential, or somebody sleeping as their post or things, or you know, even in the information security, somebody not really people not using their passwords correctly, letting other people use the computer, I mean that's part of, you know, building that security awareness and again gets back to this whole idea of collaborating with law enforcement. Because they can cross train in different areas that they, you know in terms of. You know I might have experts in the police department that are very good at training people on information security and the private sector might have people that are very good and training police on how to work more effectively in a business environment. So there's a lot of opportunities for this cross training and encouraging these, these the ability to work together again for a common purpose.

0:34:40 - Kimberly King

So some of the obstacles again, you kind of have touched on this, but to law enforcement, private security partnership. So you know we talked about challenges, are there? Are there any other obstacles that you see with these partnerships?

0:34:55 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

I think the biggest obstacle really is not having is, you know, leaders, managers, policy makers not having the foresight to, to create these for and formalize these partnership. You know, I, I mean we when I teach these courses, I say, I say students, why do we need to have partnership? What's a partnership between police and security? And, you know, sometimes I get students. They think, oh yeah, well, we're gonna work together. Well, what does it actually mean? How do you operationalize that? And really, the way it is done is you have to have leaders, stakeholders, who are, you know, invested in the mission of safety and security at a particular venue or an environment, soft-target, critical infrastructure, to really take these. The next step, the next step is to get the get leaders from these groups together to formalize a collaborative, you know, partnership or an engagement, memorandum of understanding. You sit down you think about well, what, what does this group have to offer? What, what does this group have to offer? Let's put it down in writing and let's commit resources, right, that's. The other thing is now, you know, let's put money up. If we have to, let's fund it. And I mean, the best model is, you know, I go, I always go back to this.

You know any, any major football game in the United States, any NFL you go, there are police on site. This you know. I used to. I used to do this myself. I used to work Miami Dolphin games. I was a police officer. We had a couple of hundred officers working every game. But we worked in partnership with the stadium, with the venue, with the, the ushers and the ticket takers and you know, and the traffic people. You had to work collaboratively. But that didn't just happen. It had to be planned in advance or had to be contracts in place. There had to be Memorandums of understanding. Here's what security does, here's what police do here with the traffic people do, here's when they're gonna do it, and that's what needs to happen. That. That's the kind of you know step that needs to be taken that maybe you know Some organizations aren't taking because it takes it takes resolve, leadership and momentum to make that happen.

0:37:07 - Kimberly King

Right, and that's I mean. Even when my son was training and he was going through the academy to become a police officer, I think one of the things that was so important were the scenarios that he you know that's- That was a huge part of his training, and not that you're gonna know every scenario, but you have to be ready to face it. And again, that comes in that planning and I think we could use that in our everyday lives too, by the way.

0:37:34 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Yeah, because you'll do, and you'll do in real life what you do in training. That's one thing I learned, you know, many, many years ago in the police academy. You know, whether it's firing a weapon or defensive tactics, or even how you speak with people, you train on it. You know here's the best practice, here's what we want you to do right. Here's the way here, generally speaking, is the way results get done and when you go out in the field, the expectation is you'll use what you learned in training and you will. You will do exactly how you're trained to do it. So that's not your training. Yeah, and you do.

You can do that between police and security. You know working those scenarios, I mean and we actually did that port of Miami we would. We would have classes on security awareness, employee security awareness. So not just security, not just the security people, but just the people that worked, you know, in the terminals and in the venues. Get them in a room with the police, with security, and start talking about the threats and the issues and why it's so important not to let people if you got a secure door with a, you know, with a card reader not to hold the door for the person behind you. There's a reason for that. And try to and talk those things out, because then you take your, then your employees are much more well invested in the security of the site.

0:38:52 - Kimberly King

Yeah right, good point. Yeah, so the training it's in the training and then the planning and the and that leadership. How can police leaders develop a trusting environment for collaborating with private security organizations?

0:39:08 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, just, you know, in terms of encouraging the relationship building and the networking. You know, like I said, the examples I have is - and I used to facilitate these meetings - We used to have these, for lack of a better term, town hall meetings. You know, because after, like I said, 9-11, the federal laws came out more restrictions, stricter access, controls, credentialing things like that employees and people normally who used to normally come in and out without any problem, right? Oh well, I can't. You know, I got, I got work to do, the boss and all of that.

Well, what you do is you create a venue, an environment or a setting where you let people come in and talk about their frustrations, but, at the same time, what you do is you, you encourage them to understand why we're doing things. It's really a communication, you know, operation. So leaders, you know whether, you know, police officers are resistant or they don't want to share intelligence, you have to get them in a room with their like-minded. I mean we're all in the same. I mean we're all rowing in the same direction, but sometimes we're in different boats, right? So the idea is to get everybody rowing in the same direction, you know, with the same mission plan, with the same common perspective of what we're trying to accomplish.

That is a function of leadership. So building and that trust building really comes down to getting people together on a regular basis, whether it's a task force, a community group, HOAs, meeting, community policing is another aspect of, you know, working with the stakeholders and communities, faith-based organizations, businesses, thinking, you know, straightforward. I mean school shootings are a great example in terms of why it's important for police to work with the school systems to understand, because if you're going to have cops showing up at a school and they don't even know what the inside of the school looks like, they're not going to be very effective, right. That's why that advanced planning. So it's important to get that, build those trusting relationships. That's leadership's role.

0:41:10 - Kimberly King

Yeah, and I love that you said it's leadership. I mean, for so long we've heard even egos with different organizations become a problem as well. But if you're all talking and you have the same, you know, like-minded, you want to see good things as the end. All you know, the end, all be-all.

0:41:27 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Yeah, I think a lot of that. Like I said, 9-11 was a paradigm shifter. You know, there used to be this kind of I don't know if it was legend or real, I never really experienced it here's federal authorities, here's local police, and there was this animosity. I never really experienced that. But I'll tell you, after 9-11, the Department of Homeland Security, the federal agency right, really was a conglomeration of all these 22 different organizations Coast Guard, customs, immigration, enforcement, they all came together. Initially there was a lot of walls there, but over the last 20, 25 years a lot of those walls have broken down because we all realized we're all in the same boat. So the collaboration between particularly local, state and federal levels in government has gotten way better and I don't think you see much of that animosity or that. You know that silo building that really was not very efficient.

0:42:21 - Kimberly King

Right, good, that's good to know what are some of the essential components of successful public-private partnerships, and I know you've been talking about how important those components with leadership. But are there any other components that you can talk about?

0:42:38 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

You mean the outcomes. The outcomes of collaboration really are finite and plans that can be shared and maybe modeled and reused in other environments. So that's one good thing. There are a number of - I don't want to get into name it - but I'm thinking of, like there were programs put together after 9-11 that had to do with transit security, right, bus security, rail security. A lot of that had to do with the agents of railroads working with local state law enforcement to improve security, because that's basically another kind of soft target right, and so what you can do with something like that is look at how effective it was or, if it wasn't effective, how it could be made to work in other environments, right, and use those models.

So really, the outcome of a collaboration is putting something that might work together, where it can be shared more widely, and that's what happens when we go to conferences, we go to seminars, symposia, and other things that we do. A lot of the ones I've been going to, particularly over the last few years, and a lot of the emphasis has been in cybersecurity, is sharing knowledge and awareness of things that work and maybe some things that didn't work, that you don't want to be doing that because they don't work. So it's really about this knowledge sharing, and that's what we do at these conferences and things we share research we think about. We have speakers come in to talk about how they, for example, managed after a big tornado event or a hurricane event and they share that knowledge with other like-minded professionals so that they can go back and think about applying those things. So really it's about collaborating so that you can share the knowledge more widely in maybe a different venue or in a different industry or in a different kind of event or planning of some kind.

0:44:37 - Kimberly King

And that, again, it's so great to be able to collaborate in some things we don't see ahead of time, but just really opening up those conversations. How might law enforcement and private security organizations formalize a partnership for crime prevention?

0:44:57 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, something as simple as putting together a community group I mean, think about local chambers of commerce, business interests. They come together in a town or a community or in a small city or in a large city and they're really there to advance the interests of that business community so they might have programs to clean up downtown or try to manage the unsheltered population better, things like that. The same thing can be done in terms of crime prevention and thinking about threats of terrorism or mass attacks and things like that. It really is about working together. It sounds kind of cliche, you must work together, but that's what it is. It's forming organizations. So, whether it's a task force, a committee, a focus group, getting people like homeowner associations to think about, if you're having, if crime, burglary and property crime is going up in a certain community or in a subdivision, it's important to contact local police and get someone in who can help the community, try to help themselves. That was kind of the basis of a lot of us are familiar with crime watch, crime prevention programs. But that same model works in terms of thinking about protecting in the school environment or protecting in the recreation industry or in a hospitality setting, because that's where you have.

Anytime people come together, there's a potential for, you know, for criminal behavior to occur. And if it's happening, like in a hotel district, San Diego, the Gaslamp, I'm sure that the business interests there will come together and think about well, we can't, we got the golden cow here, we can't let that, we can't let that die because there's some scoundrels out here scaring people off. So that's when, you know, local law enforcement, community policing, engagement with the business and its interests have to kind of come together. If it's just, you know, it could be one problem or it could be a series of problems. But it's really about developing that ongoing relationship to formalize how we're going to deal with a problem.

Now, that ain't easy because there's lots of problems out there. Right, one problem in one section of town if you're just going to start throwing assets over there and money you know it just might take away from another. So the challenge for the leadership is to think about the equity right of whatever solutions you're coming up with, because you can't disadvantage one group, you know, just to benefit another. Because even if you don't do it, that might be the perception in a community.

0:47:49 - Kimberly King

Again, things that we don't necessarily always think about, but that is so true and it is that perception. Wow, this is great information and I really enjoyed speaking to you and hopefully we can have you back on in the future. But thank you for sharing your knowledge today, doctor, and if you want more information, you can visit National University's website at And again, thank you so much for your time and your information.

0:48:15 - Doctor Kenneth Christopher

Well, thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and the audience and I look forward to any further collaborations and I invite anybody who's interested in our programs to look me up. I'm on the website. I'm easy to find and get ahold of me. I'm happy to talk to anybody who might be interested in our programs and the university.

0:48:36 - Kimberly King

Perfect, thank you. And thank you for making a difference. You've been listening to the National University podcast. For updates on future or past guests, visit us at You can also follow us on social media. Thanks for listening.

* Note: The violent crime rate increased 6.1% (from 466.2 per 100,000 residents in 2021 to 494.6 in 2022), but it remains significantly below California’s historical high of 1,103.9 in 1992. From 2022 Crime in California Report

Show Quotables

"There's a lot of collaboration and planning going on with these special events and that's the kind of collaboration... that should be happening on a regular basis." - Kenneth Christopher, Click to Tweet
"Private sector has a lot of things to bring to the problem and a lot of times, it's really just about sharing the knowledge and also collaborating in ways to leverage the technology to help each other." - Kenneth Christopher, Click to Tweet