CFATS E-News: Forming Relationships with Law Enforcement and Emergency Responders

Feb. 1, 2011
Coordinating with law enforcement can provide the give-and-take needed to avoid difficulties and most certainly to mitigate problems.

When we talk about all the things that we need to do to secure a chemical facility, whether or not it falls under the CFATS or MTSA mandates, we sometimes forget the simplest things. Things that cost very little and take few resources, but that prove invaluable. One of those is forming relationships with federal, state and local law enforcement and first responders. These relationships can be extremely effective and are well worth the time and effort. Coordinating with law enforcement can provide the give-and-take needed to avoid difficulties and most certainly to mitigate problems that do occur.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the chemical sector employs just about one million people and generates more than $637 billion a year in revenue. Most chemical sector facilities are privately owned, so that means that they have to go into the community to form relationships with governmental departments and agencies. The benefit from these relationships can be very meaningful for both sides.

These relationships benefit governmental agencies because they get an idea of what goes on at a chemical facility behind the chain link fence. It helps them to identify risks, take precautions and better plan for emergencies. It helps the private sector chemical facility to better recognize the public sector resources that are available and what response levels will be activated in the event of an emergency. Initiating a relationship ahead of time can mean that when a problem does occur both sides already have the information they need to take action, help each other and be as effective as possible. This can be essential at a critical moment. As one first responder has said, "We want our emergency personnel to go into an emergency situation at a chemical plant ready to respond because they know the facility, they know the people and they know the plan."

A collaborative effort between DHS Security Chemical SSA and industry stakeholders (for example – state chemical industry councils, state homeland security offices, industry trade associations and state emergency management agencies) works to bring private sector chemical facilities and local emergency response teams together. They encourage communication and tabletop exercises focusing on a variety of different scenarios including an active shooter, a hostage situation and a suspicious vehicle or package. This is a voluntary program that is meant to address the needs and concerns of both the public and private sectors involved.

At the federal level, the FBI has an interesting program called InfraGard. It is a liaison between the private sector and FBI and focuses on critical infrastructure, cyber and physical security. Today the program has close to 38,000 members with representatives from more than 350 of the top Fortune 500 companies.

The group is a partnership that includes the FBI, private business, academics, state and local law enforcement, and others. Its goal is the "sharing of information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States." It has also established Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that focus on specific sectors or areas of interest – and chemical is one of those.

The group is organized into chapters that are associated geographically with FBI field offices and territories. The chapters have regular meetings to share information, and they also invite a variety of speakers from law enforcement and public and private agencies. Anyone can apply for membership. There is a background check for all potential members because of the sensitive nature of the information being shared. It's a good way to represent your company and another way to develop an effective relationship with law enforcement at all levels.

To view the complete CFATS e-newsletter this article was featured in, click here.

Ryan Loughin is Director of Petrochemical & Energy Solutions for the Advanced Integration division of ADT. He provides security education to CFATS and MTSA-affected companies and is a member of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Associates (SOCMA), American Chemistry Council (ACC), Energy Security Council (ESC) and American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Loughin has also completed multiple levels of CVI Authorized User training (Chemical- Terrorism Vulnerability Information) which was authored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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