1. What is the purpose of homeland security education and how are you different now that you have completed the course?
The purpose of homeland security education is to teach and prepare students to become effective leaders and professionals in emergency management, disaster relief and counter-terrorism. Through the study of homeland security, I have seen and gained a better understanding that homeland security is not a one agency issue but one that affects and incorporates the work of a wide-range of departments including immigration, border control, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Understanding the complexity of it all is helpful in realizing all the work that is needed to coordinate an effective homeland security plan and the need for trained personnel who can take on these responsibilities. Moreover, I have learned that nothing is static in homeland security. On the contrary it is a rather dynamic environment that requires the skills and ability to access the situation analyze the available options and act quickly on the information that you have in front of you. Accordingly I have been able to improve my critical thinking skills.
2. What foreseeable clashes will future homeland security practices have with the Constitution?
One of the primary areas of concern in homeland security is cybersecurity or the protection of the computers and networks that connect government, industry and the people. Homeland security in this area not only includes responding to and investigating cyber-threats but also, when possible, eliminating threats before they may happen. Accordingly homeland security performs a wide-range of law enforcement and intelligence activities such as surveillance of suspects, interrogation of defendants, and the investigation of evidence of criminality. The question of constitutional importance is how far homeland security can go in ensure the nation’s cybersecurity before it violates people’s constitution rights to information privacy. A second, but related clash is how close domestic homeland security agencies should work with US foreign intelligence agencies in the investigation of criminal or terrorist activity. As has been made clear, US foreign intelligence agencies are very capable in performing electronic surveillance but is it or should it be legal for homeland security agencies to have access to that information.
3. What are the benefits to first responder regarding the study of homeland security and what was it that you learned?
The study of homeland security provides first responders with a number of benefits. First, it broadens training to a number of areas including chemical, biological and nuclear, which were once normally only given to the military. Second, it has decreased the reliance of on the job training to provide a venue for formal training, practice and reflection in a number of scenarios before first responders are actually forced to use their skills in a real situation. This decreases the chance of mistake and increases the confidence of personnel that they have the ability to manage the situation. For instance, a first responder that has prior training and practice in handling a terrorist attack, natural disaster or performing cyber-surveillance can respond directly and authoritatively to an emergency situation without having to wait for more specialized assistance. That decrease in response time can save lives, limit damage to property or stop the situation from expanding out of control. Moreover, as first responders are the authorities that most people come into contact with, seeing them act with professionalism and ability gives people confidence that the situation will be put under control.
4. What do you take away from studying homeland security and what, if anything, would you do differently if you took this course again?
I enjoyed the opportunity to learn knowledge and skills that I never considered before but that I can now use every day. To be sure during my studies I was able to develop an in-depth understanding of homeland security and advance my awareness of its importance. I would not change anything if I were to take the course again. I enjoyed it as it was organized.