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Berkeley College Professor Allen Sondej

Professor Discusses Importance of National Security Forum



Berkeley College Professor Allen Sondej


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

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 private security companies, shared real-world examples with an audience of 90 law enforcement officers, community influencers, educators, and students.

Allen R. Sondej, DSc, JD, a professor in the Justice Studies Department at Berkeley College, served as a moderator for the forum. Dr. Sondej served as a New Jersey police officer for 25 years, retiring in September 2013 as a captain. A strong believer in the co-equal roles of the community and police, he was the architect of a number of community policing programs. Below Dr. Sondej shares his thoughts on the importance of the National Security Forum:

What was the most important takeaway from the National Security Forum?

The most important takeaway was that there is a pressing need for civil security education, training and public-private collaboration. The threats we face today are much more than just interpersonal crime, they are multi-dimensional.

For instance, when it comes to cyber-crime, there is no cop on the beat there. This might seem like an oversimplification of the issue, but law enforcement is struggling to find ways to effectively police this type of environment. Individuals with the training and experience in dealing with incidents that take place in a virtual environment tend to be drawn away from the public sector in favor of the private sector.

Events like this forum help bring public and private entities and professionals together and foster relationships that benefit us all, regardless of the professional domain.

In light of recent security threats in the United States, what are the advantages of bringing communities and professionals together in this way?

Quite simply, communication. As we well know from the attacks of 9/11, the lack of communication plays a significant role in the breakdown of our national security posture.

Communication at its heart is between people. Even communication between monolithic organizations like the FBI and the NYPD still boils down to a human point of contact. The most effective communication is often derived from inter-personal relationships.

These relationships must be built through face-to-face encounters and in most cases a shared experience.

The Berkeley College forum allowed organizations to create the building blocks for these relationships.

What is the value of events like the National Security Forum to Berkeley College students? What do you hope they learned?

The opportunity for students to participate in an event with subject matter experts brings a real-world, practical experience to the educational process. The students observed how professionals interact and perhaps glimpsed where they will be in their future careers.

The Forum provided tangible examples of dynamic careers in national security and underscored the commitment of Berkeley College in preparing its students for the emerging discipline of civil security through national security studies.