National Security Forum Spring 2016 - Top Story
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National Security Forum 2016

The Future of Emergency Communications

Security Professionals Discuss Power, Risks of Social Media
at Berkeley College 3rd Annual National Security Forum 

Inside Berkeley National Security

Enhancing public-private partnerships and leveraging social media in emergency communications were the topics of focus at the 3rd Annual National Security Forum, held June 10, 2016, at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ.

“Social media is an unofficial spoke in the wheel of intelligence,” said panelist Edward Dickson, President, MSA Investigations and Former Director, New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (pictured above, far left).

“What an extraordinary learning opportunity for our Justice Studies and National Security students here,” said Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College.

Retired and active professionals from the New York City Police Department, New Jersey State Police, and New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, as well as communications officials from the corporate security business sector, shared real-world examples with an audience of 90 law enforcement officers, federal and state emergency preparedness officials, corporate security professionals, educators and students.

“National Security and Social Media: The Power of Information and Knowledge” was the third in a series of annual security forums hosted by Berkeley College.

Inside Berkeley Michael Smith students

Photo Captions: (Top) An audience member asks a question during the 3rd Annual Berkeley College National Security Forum. (Above) Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College, discusses the panel with Honors students.

A Shift in Crisis Communications

Panelists acknowledged that the greatest obstacle to effective communications is fear and misunderstanding of social media.

Steven Milligan, Vice President, Product Management – Law Enforcement and Emergency Management, Signal Corporation, said it is important to serve the community where it lives, adding that sometimes residents will send a tweet rather than dial 9-1-1.

“As events have unfolded over the years, organizations have realized there is something valid in social media that we need to understand,” he said. “If these agencies won’t listen to what people and their thumbs have to say, they’re missing out on critical information.”

Ed Dickinson BerkeleyMichael Fronimos, Vice President, National Information Officers Association (pictured above right), said that with appropriate guidelines, emergency personnel should be empowered to build relationships with the communities they serve through social media.

“Not only can social media be used to build our communities, but it can also be used to protect our communities,” he said.

Mr. Dickson (pictured left) spoke about the ways social media has been used to identify threats, such as during the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 and 2012.

Join the Conversation: @BerkeleyCollege #BerkeleyNSF2016

Bridging the Gap

The professionals spoke about the challenges of facing threats from groups who truly know how to harness the power of social media.

David Chong, Commissioner, City of White Plains Police Department and Professor, Justice Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies (pictured right), discussed terrorist propaganda from ISIS. Donna Roman Hernandez, Captain, Caldwell Police Department (Ret.), spoke about online threats from child predators.

Izabela Pelszynska Inside BerkeleyOne way agencies are working to combat these challenges is by breaking silos through partnerships that increase the flow of information, they said.

“There has been an explosion of public/private partnerships since 9/11 because it exposed so many gaps,” Mr. Dickson said.

Izabela Pelszynska, Founder and President, The Breacher Group (pictured left), agreed, saying “all aspects (of security) are connected.”

Inside Berkeley LauraLt. Jeremy Russ, Intelligence and Analysis Threat Unit Head, New Jersey State Police, said that agencies successfully partnered to provide security during the Papal visit in September 2015.

“New Jersey is bridging the gap,” he said. “We’re not just talking the talk. We’re now starting to walk the walk.”

Laura Connolly, Public Information Officer, Office of Emergency Management, New Jersey State Police (pictured right), spoke about the ways New Jersey communicated with its residents via social media to help them prepare for Superstorm Sandy.

“The day to start using social media is not the day of a disaster,” she said. 

Inside Berkeley Hernandez

Photo Caption: Donna Roman Hernandez, Captain, Caldwell Police Department (Ret.), speaks about online threats from child predators.

International Implications

Mr. Milligan, who has worked in law enforcement in both the United Kingdom and New Zealand, said it is important to consider issues of national security abroad.

Beyond terrorism, this could include security at international sporting events, natural disasters, health threats, and infrastructure collapses, he said.

“There are no geographic boundaries on a post or a tweet,” he added. 

Milligan Inside Berkeley

Photo Caption: Steven Milligan, Vice President, Product Management – Law Enforcement and Emergency Management, Signal Corporation, discusses national security abroad.

Careers of the Future

Berkeley College students questioned the panelists about the future of social media and whether millennials have an edge when applying for technology positions in the criminal justice field.

Alina Williams, Compliance Specialist, Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States (pictured right), said that 80 percent of jobs in the justice field lie in the private sector.

President Smith said the potential for students is unlimited.

“The impact of technology on us is extraordinary,” he said. “It’s incomprehensible to think where we’ll be tomorrow.”

Inside Berkeley Students

Photo Caption: Berkeley College students listen to the panelists.

Panel One: Building Public/Private Partnerships in National Security

National Security Panel One Inside Berkeley 

Photo Caption (L to R): Steven Milligan, Vice President, Product Management – Law Enforcement and Emergency Management, Signal Corporation; Alina Williams, Compliance Specialist, Wakefern Food Corp; Gary Krulish, Professor, Justice Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies; Izabela Pelszynska, Founder and President, The Breacher Group; Edward Dickson, President, MSA Investigations and Former Director, New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness; and Charlane Brown-Wyands, JD, Associate Chair, Justice Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies and Deputy Inspector, New York City Police Department (Ret.).

Panel Two: Using Social Media to Address National Security Threats

National Security Forum Inside Berkeley

Photo Caption (L to R): Josh Liss, New Jersey Office of Homeland Security; Allen Sondej, DSc, JD, Professor, Justice Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies and Captain, South Brunswick Police Department (Ret.); Laura Connolly, Public Information Officer, Office of Emergency Management, New Jersey State Police; Lt. Jeremy Russ, Intelligence and Analysis Threat Unit Head, New Jersey State Police; David Chong, Commissioner, City of White Plains Police Department and Professor, Justice Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies; and Charlane Brown-Wyands, JD, Associate Chair, Justice Studies, Berkeley College School of Professional Studies and Deputy Inspector, New York City Police Department (Ret.). Not pictured is Donna Roman Hernandez, Captain, Caldwell Police Department (Ret.).