New York City

1,000+ terror, security experts flood NYC to share expertise

Coordinated by NYC Emergency Management’s HQ in Brooklyn

July 16, 2018 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Austin Police Chief Brian Manley described how the Austin package bombings rolled out, the logistical challenges faced by police and FBI, and their coordinated response. Photo courtesy of Josh Shellman

New York City was perhaps one of the safest places in the country last week as police, fire officials, members of the military and more than 1,000 emergency management professionals from across the nation converged in Manhattan for the annual National Homeland Security Conference.

Counterterrorism professionals, critical response teams, cyberterrorism experts and other security professionals put on demonstrations, displayed their gear and shared their expertise with their fellow professionals.

With New York City a prime terror target, it is surprising to note that this is the first year that NYC has hosted the conference. But it won’t be the last, according to Branch Strickland, president of the National Homeland Security Association.

“I’m a Brooklyn guy,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle on Thursday. Strickland’s day job is executive director of finance at NYC Emergency Management, located in Downtown Brooklyn.

Hosting the National Homeland Security Conference, selling out with more than 1,400 attendees, was a labor of love for NYC’s Emergency Management team.

“It’s a volunteer board and we’re all public employees, so we do this on nights, weekends, lunch hours,” Strickland said. There were about 20 people on the core planning team and roughly 350 volunteers setting up a disaster demonstration and other conference happenings, Strickland said. “It’s a huge effort, a huge lift, but it’s worth it at the end of the day.”

At Wednesday and Thursday’s sessions, security professionals heard presentations by the first responders who dealt with numerous terror incidents and other tragedies.

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Rachel Skidmore, Las Vegas Metropolitan Emergency Management, spoke in great detail about the response to the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history. Brian Manley, Austin Police Chief, discussed the March 2018 Austin City bombing investigation. Tania Glenn, of Tania Glen & Associates, described meeting the mental health needs of first responders.

Other speakers included Chief in Charge of FDNY Haz-Mat Nicholas Del Re and Stephen Cichoki, US Northern Command, who live streamed a demonstration of a biological, radiological, nuclear response, and NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito.

“That’s really the whole point of the conference — bringing people from across the country together in one space to share best practices,” Strickland said.

An audiogram of some of the hundreds of shots fired at the Las Vegas country music festival. The sound was captured from a recording device in an Uber vehicle. Photo courtesy of Josh Shellman

This dummy (note the gun in her hand) is used to train people to respond to an active shooter who may not fit the stereotypical image of a “gunman.” Eagle photo by Mary Frost

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