Recap: CHHS Director, Staff, Take Center Stage at Maryland Governor’s Forum on Public Safety

January 26th, 2011 by Eric Oddo

On January 13, 2011, CHHS Director Michael Greenberger and CHHS staffers Robin Clark, Emily Cornette, Dave McDonough, Eric Oddo, and Lori Stone took part in Governor Martin O’Malley’s Public Safety and Security Forum at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. The forum brought together an enthusiastic collection of local, state, federal, non-profit, and private actors and stakeholders from all sectors of public service throughout Maryland.

Governor O’Malley led off the day by introducing the main objectives of his Administration’s “Maryland Forward” initiative, the four major pillars of which are Skills, Sustainability, Health, and Security. He explained that setting goals, exhibiting fiscal responsibility, changing course when necessary, sound performance measurement, innovation, and cross-border collaboration are the means to achieve those ends.

Subject matter experts facilitated morning breakout sessions and early afternoon general plenary sessions, the conclusions of which were presented to the Governor in the form of recommendations at the end of the afternoon.

In addition to co-facilitating the “Homeland Security: Emergency Management” breakout session with Mark F. Hubbard of the Baltimore County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Professor Greenberger conducted the afternoon Homeland Security Plenary, which allowed practitioners to ask questions and offer expertise on five core goals: Interoperable Communications, Intelligence/Information Sharing, Vulnerability Assessment, CCTV, and Transportation Security.

In terms of Interoperable Communications, Professor Greenberger recommended to Governor O’Malley that the state seek legislation to create a board that can maintain uniformity and establish best practices across jurisdictions. One of the established best practice recommendations is to develop protocols to ensure that systems are not overloaded with unnecessary and frivolous data. These protocols would ensure that timely, concise, and appropriate information can reach the essential parties during an emergency.

Regarding Intelligence/Information Sharing, Professor Greenberger explained that the need for a unified classification system for security clearance is substantial, as the fragmentation of the current systems can make acquiring information cumbersome and inefficient. He also emphasized the importance of the cross-jurisdictional sharing of data, and reiterated the Virtual Command Center that certain personnel can acquire on their Blackberries.

The fact that 85% of critical infrastructure in the U.S. is owned by the private sector creates a challenge when addressing vulnerability assessments. Professor Greenberger stressed that public/private coordination in this arena is imperative, and recommended that local jurisdictions and private entities could benefit from identifying key personnel whom can play a part in infrastructure protection.

There are currently 8,400 Closed-Circuit TVs operating in Maryland. In his recommendation to Governor O’Malley, Professor Greenberger emphasized the criticality of CCTV feeds being able to reach first responders swiftly and seamlessly, and the endless benefits that could ensue from a statewide cross-jurisdictional Memorandum of Agreement to share feeds.

Finally, in terms of Transportation Security, Professor Greenberger stressed the importance of ensuring that all state and local first responders are properly equipped with the state-of-the-art equipment necessary to mitigate and respond to threats directed toward the state’s ports, airports, train stations, subways, and rail lines. Annual functional and full-scale exercises are paramount in ensuring adequate preparedness and to address potential gaps.

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