Each year, Homeland Security Today honors shining stars in the community who are making their own unique, invaluable contributions to advance the mission of keeping America safer from myriad threats. Learn more about this year’s awardees ahead of the Dec. 11 awards ceremony in Washington.
Dan Albert, New York State, Red Team Program
New York’s Red Team initiative is a first-in-the nation program created in 2009 that works to counter terrorism and violent extremism through a unique two-phase approach that raises public awareness for suspicious activity and reporting; the program was expanded as a result of the soft-target attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. Red Teamers engage in suspicious behavior at businesses and other facilities to test New York’s terrorism outreach and see if and how the activity is reported to law enforcement. In 2019 members of New York State’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service’s Office of Counter Terrorism collaborated with over 400 personnel from more than 100 different law enforcement agencies across the state to conduct outreach and testing to over 1,000 locations. Red Team activities are coordinated by the DHSES Red Team Unit, led by Dan Albert, and now take place within each county of the state annually. All Red Team scenarios are informed by the current threat environment and designed to raise awareness for indicators of suspicious activity among employees at businesses across the state (e.g. purchasing bomb-making components at a hardware store, asking suspicious questions and doing surveillance at a mass gathering site, attempting to rent a heavy truck with cash and no ID, etc.).
Bernie Beier, Homeland Security Director, Allen County, Indiana
In his seven and a-half years as Homeland Security Director for Allen County, Ind., Bernie Beier has been responsible for developing, implementing and directing a comprehensive homeland security program. He has determined and set strategy goals and developed and led an integrated management system which significantly enhanced the safety and security of the county. Beier has also provided public policy input and analysis, drafted comprehensive plans and conducted program evaluation, developed high-trust relationships with homeland security stakeholders, and leveraged the collective resources of the County through public partnerships for homeland security. Most recently, Beier has been championing a means to get information pushed vertically and more quickly to those decision makers on the ground who need data vital to determining the proper responses to emergency situations, moving away from a top-down structure to a virtual Emergency Operations Center. As the cloud is put in place, organizations from the three cities in Allen County will be connected along with relevant county departments. “A leader’s job in emergencies is to make decisions and we need good information quicker than ever before,” Beier told the Allen County Board of Commissioners. “The more we think about how these events impact quickly, the greater the need is to share information to make correct decisions. That’s what makes us more efficient, better prepared, and more resilient as a community.” As a member of the Indiana Emergency Response Commission, Beier has been encouraging county emergency management directors to be leaders in their local communities, engaging with county council members and commissioners.
Roberto Campos, Program Manager, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Roberto Campos leads the Biometric Exit Mobile Team, allowing personnel in the field to gather biometric data and verification in the field in real time. “The goal of the program is to support biographic and biometric capture, and queries in real-time and record results through CBP backend systems. Application development and procurement of mobile technologies has allowed the mobile program to support the full range of work locations and processing environments,” wrote ESCgov Director of Business Development Sarah Mattingly in her nomination. “Document verifications, biometric face and fingerprint captures, and full CBP system integrations are some of the significant features of the CBP mobile program. Deployments in hardware and software have allowed the mobile program to support over 180 CBP locations.” At the end of last month, Border Patrol officers in Maine used a handheld biometric device to determine the undocumented status of a man who wasn’t giving straight answers to local law enforcement. “The technology available to Border Patrol agents continues to evolve, and helps agents perform their duties quicker and safer while working in the field,” said Chief Patrol Agent Jason Owens of the Border Patrol in Maine.
Salah Czapary, Director, Office of Volunteer Coordination, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Reserve Corps Division (RCD) consists of 108 volunteer police officers who protect the residents, visitors, businesses, and critical infrastructure of the nation’s capital. Reserve officers serve on patrol in all of the department’s patrol districts, in specialized assignments including harbor patrol, aviation support, and motorcycles, and work special events such as parades, sporting events, protests, and inaugurations. In 2018, reserve officers provided nearly 28,100 hours of service, which is the rough equivalent of $1,108,000 in paid officer salaries. This year to date, reserve officers have provided 20,649 hours of service, or about $815,000 of service. Reserve officers have received commendations for saving lives, removing guns from the street, and other acts of service. The combined efforts of the reserve corps make a unique contribution to ensuring the safety and security of the nation’s capital for all Americans. Salah Czapary, a former full-time officer, serves as a reserve officer while directing the Office of Volunteer Coordination.
Kathy Dollarhide, Director, Disaster Resource Center, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Long Beach, CA
Kathy Dollarhide is the director of the Disaster Resource Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif. She organizes and runs large mass-casualty multiagency drills. This includes coordinating trainings in disaster management for nearly a dozen hospitals from Catalina Island to Downey, Calif. “She is skilled in collaborating with all the various teams of firefighters, law enforcement, military, homeland security, health departments and other community agencies,” wrote Dr. Nadine Brown Farr of the Caring Hearts Global Mission Foundation in her nomination. “Kathy mobilizes all these teams and includes local universities and colleges to demonstrate the needed community organization relevant during disaster situations. More people are more knowledgeable and now prepared thanks to the effort of this team.” Dollarhide is a certified HAZMAT instructor and trains with all Long Beach law enforcement and fire departments, as well as a dedicated safety instructor for the Long Beach Airport.
Gregory St. James, Program Manager, Montgomery County Maryland Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
As part of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) teaches residents how to be prepared for disasters large and small, providing support to community efforts and training individuals to be prepared to step up when the need arises. Montgomery CERT is made up of community volunteers organized under the leadership of Program Manager Greg St. James and President Carl Brill. The CERT leadership also includes a core group of volunteers – the executive and steering committees – who perform the organizational, day-to-day tasks that keep the Montgomery County CERT ready to respond. CERT members have volunteered thousands of volunteer hours supporting Montgomery County, providing training programs such as CERT Basic and CPR/AED, supporting the community by providing manpower to secure events like parades, and attending outreach events.
Bridgett Lewis, Manager, Security Operations, Port of Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
The Maritime Coordination Center (MCC), operated out of the Port of Long Beach, provides 24/7 support to more than 80 law enforcement agencies across Central California. Bridgett Lewis serves as the director of the MCC, in conjunction with her day-to-day responsibilities leading the security operations of the Port of Long Beach. Working directly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and scores of other federal, state, and local agencies, Lewis and the MCC ensure the safe and efficient deployment of response assets across its area of responsibility. They do so by tracking and de-conflicting operations through the GIS-based Virtual Port platform and a team of highly trained operators. They also conduct regular, state-certified courses on maritime smuggling indicators for local and state law enforcement agencies all along the California Coast. Since its inception in 2011, the MCC has coordinated hundreds of operations across five counties and over 1,000 law enforcement assets. These actions have led to countless prosecutions and the interdiction of dangerous people and goods prior to their arrival on our shores.
Shaun C. Roach, Manager, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Over a 40-plus-year career in homeland security, Shaun C. Roach has never taken unscheduled leave. With decades of service in the Marine Corps and Army National Guard, he has served at the Transportation Security Administration since 2002. During this time, he has overseen the insider-threat and behavior-detection program, specializing in identifying and preventing terrorism, human trafficking, and other homeland security threats, while mentoring young and growing officers in the field. He assisted in the development of the first TSA honor guard program in the National Capital Region and participates in award ceremonies across the region, honoring fallen soldiers and veterans – a practice that has been adopted at other airports across the nation.
Tadgh Smith, Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) for Technology and Transformation, Law Enforcement and Systems Analysis (LESA)
As the LESA DAD, Tadgh Smith consistently employs an innovative and forward-thinking mindset in approaching challenges big and small, such as constantly evolving immigration policies and priorities, prevalence of manual, unstandardized processes. and budgetary constraints. Smith places paramount importance on the need to continually innovate and modernize business processes, systems, and data to allow his agency to more effectively and efficiently carry out the DHS mission. As a result of his leadership and support to LESA innovation and modernization efforts, officers are able to spend more time focusing on critical enforcement priorities, ERO is able to more quickly and accurately fulfill reporting requirements and make agile data-driven decisions, and the division is a leader in increasing operational effectiveness through engaging DHS personnel to bring operational expertise to solution design and development initiatives. Smith is currently working with multiple law enforcement agencies on a data sharing and modernization initiative to streamline access to information from these agencies into a single shared repository.
Lt. C.D.S. Brian Vaughan, Threat Reduction & Infrastructure Protection, Physical Security, Counterterrorism Division, New York Police Department
The NYPD’s Counterterrorism Bureau reviews possible terrorist targets and develops innovative, forward-thinking policies and procedures to guard against attacks, training first responders and specialized units and developing intelligence capabilities for detecting and preventing terrorist attacks. Lt. Brian Vaughan leads the Threat Reduction & Infrastructure Protection Section and he has been a fundamental pillar for the execution of various preventive projects throughout the city of New York, among them the implementation of barricades in different structures and critical locations, which are currently an easy target for terrorist attacks. An FBI National Academy graduate, he’s been able to identify high-risk sites and develop protective strategies for these areas. He coordinates with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in intelligence gathering and sharing, and plays an integral role in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Amy Wheelock, Senior Advisor, Field Operations Directorate, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services
Amy Wheelock is serving as the business chair for USCIS’ eProcessing IPT, which aspires to achieve end-to-end digital workflow processing to include the ingestion of all applications and evidence through adjudication, decision making, and communication with applicants. eProcessing is about modernizing technology, improving operations, and increasing capacity to address USCIS’ constantly changing, dynamic environment. Amy is working to achieve eProcessing in an environment of changing and competing priorities, emerging technology, and unclear governance. Despite those challenges, she’s got her eye on the future, focusing on delivering incremental value while building long-term change. She’s been instrumental in getting new enterprise initiatives under control and directional, assisting business units in getting their needs addressed, ensuring adoption of new and existing enterprise-wide services, driving more maturity in technology delivery (e.g., program management, integrated test), aligning resources to enterprise priorities and deconflicting where necessary, creating methods and processes to realize consistent delivery from the business and technology partnership, and getting the first form digitized and online using eProcessing domain services.