CHDS launches new Alumni Hour virtual discussions

The Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) hosted the inaugural Alumni Hour discussion on October 28, in partnership with the CHDS Alumni Association. The Alumni Hour will be conducted monthly so the CHDS community can discuss and explore the difficult challenges we face together. This forum creates an opportunity to exchange ideas about the challenges we are experiencing as a result of COVID-19, the upcoming election, cyberattacks, natural disasters, protests, and more. CHDS is committed to providing its alumni with a trusted place to share their thoughts and ideas for smart practices.

This was the first time CHDS used an “open mic” format where the CHDS community asked questions along the way and were added to the panel as the discussion evolved. David Brannan, CHDS instructor, and newly installed President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Cynthia Renaud (cohort MA 0901/0902), joined the moderators to share their thoughts and help steer the classroom-style discussion. Nearly 100 alumni from a wide range of CHDS programs, cohorts, and geographic regions participated in the Alumni Hour.

Screenshot from the first Alumni Hour discussion.

Hosted by Heather Issvoran, CHDS Strategic Communications Director, and David O’Keeffe, CHDS Senior Advisor, the conversation covered many topics during the free-form session. Renaud challenged the status quo of using classic (old) tools to approach new problems. CHDS master’s alumnus (cohort MA 1505/1506) Ronnell Higgins, Chief of Police at Yale University, posed the question of whether we’re still suffering from a failure of imagination as a country (in reference to our inability to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent establishment of the Department of Homeland Security). Chief Higgins noted that the internal division within our country is being fueled by an increased sense of tribalism. The state actors who are actively dividing national culture and identity have generated an in-group versus out-group dynamic which could affect our ability to ‘imagine’ new scenarios or threats. Participants agreed that internal threats like the evolving contingent of domestic terrorism groups need to be assessed through a new lens or different tools as technology advances and provides new platforms to spread misinformation and amplify propaganda. Brannan noted that this topic is covered in part by a recent report co-authored by CHDS instructor Seth Jones and others at the Center for Strategic & International Studies on “The Evolution of Domestic Terrorism in the United States.”

Renaud shared some of the IACP’s top initiatives that she plans to prioritize going forward—from addressing homelessness to critical incident response with a specific focus on crowd management. The hour-long conversation also delved into the topic of building social resilience in our communities to better protect the fabric of society that’s being tugged in different directions by shifting norms. Participants shared their perspectives on the recent civil unrest—as personal viewpoints and professional obligations intersect. As Brannan noted, these things take time and we never shift fast enough for those people who are being affected negatively. That is why these opportunities to share and discuss our collective challenges are so important and timely. The sooner we identify a problem, the sooner we can collaborate to solve it. The next CHDS Alumni Hour is scheduled for November 19 at 0900 Pacific/1200 Eastern time. Stay connected and stay informed!