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Frazzano Brings Thesis Expertise to FEMA Fellowship

The efficiency, sheer surprise and devastation of a 2008 attack in Mumbai, India that killed 166 in a coordinated wave of 11 separate assaults introduced a new method of modern terrorism that continues to concern homeland security planners.

One of them is Tracy Frazzano, an alumnus of the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security and currently a fellow with the Federal Emergency Management Agency who is assisting with the Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series (JCTAWS).

Sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Counterterrorism Center, these workshops help cities plan responses to such an incident. As she graduated CHDS in December 2010, Frazzano was uniquely positioned for the topic, having authored her thesis on the Mumbai attacks.

"I’ve always thought law enforcement didn’t do enough training with active shooters," said Frazzano, a lieutenant with the Montclair, N.J. Police Department. "When I saw what happened in Mumbai, I thought this shows that active shooter training needs to go further."

The approach and methods used by the 10 militants to attack hotels, cafés, a train station and a Jewish center spurred the JCTAWS program, which during 2011 held workshops in Philadelphia, Boston, Sacramento, Indianapolis, Honolulu, and Houston. Additional workshops are planned for 2012. The program had been established prior to Frazzano’s fellowship.

Each workshop centers on a 24-hour scenario in which multiple coordinated assaults occur, much like the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. For each city, a summary report is issued and, ultimately, an overarching JCTAWS executive summary is planned that will identify trends, what has been learned about active shooter incidents and best practices for responding to such occurrences.

The goal is to:

  • Improve situational awareness and encourage information sharing among all stakeholders;
  • Review existing response and interdiction plans/policies/procedures related to a Mumbai-style attack;
  • Identify gaps in operational capabilities, response resources, and authorities;
  • Identify federal, state, and local resources – including grants, training, exercises, and technical assistance – available to address potential gaps in capabilities; and
  • Identify and share best practices and lessons learned.

The sessions are based on a multi-site complex attack involving active shooters. Representatives from law enforcement, fire service, emergency management and even the private sector gauge their respective response capabilities and determine the efficiency of their resources. This year’s effort launched with a Jan. 31 Kickoff Conference in Long Island, N.Y., something Frazzano helped to coordinate as a fellow. Through this process she has been instrumental in planning and coordinating future workshops as well as assisting in content development of the summary report that will detail commonalities, response gaps and suggested solutions to cities.

"Since we might not be able to stop all of these types of incidents from happening, it is important for cities to develop their response plans and share with others the positive practices," Frazzano said. "My thesis allowed me to start the educational research and the workshops allow me to see the theories in practice."

Additionally, Frazzano is capitalizing on her CHDS education during her fellowship with a project that is developing a risk cell within FEMA. She cites the courses of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Strategic Planning for preparing her for this task.

"I will forever be grateful to the NPS program for the education I received," she said "The reading material, the presentations, and the papers supplied me with great knowledge. The fellowship allows me to bring life to the research I did. CHDS helped make my transition easier and an overall remarkable experience."

Moreover, she has been in contact with her agency, the Montclair Police Department, and has been sharing the knowledge from the fellowship experience with them. She believes that the skills and expertise from her fellowship experience will be invaluable when she returns.

"I think it is extremely important for mid-sized to small local agencies to better understand how the federal government functions," she observed. "I don’t think we are fully aware of all the opportunities and resources available."