The Reflecting Pool

reflecting pool at NPS

karimiThe Reflecting Pool is a series of informal conversations Bijan Karimi, CHDS master’s degree program graduate (cohort 1402), has with other program students about their thesis research, the spark that led to the selection of their topic, research challenges and personal experiences with the thesis process. Participants also discuss how the topic relates to the broader homeland security enterprise and what it’s like to be part of the master’s program.

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How Critical is Critical Infrastructure? Fall 2017. David Riedman (CHDS cohort 1401/1402) speaks with Bijan about current critical infrastructure protection efforts. They discuss findings that could justify reducing the scope of the current mission by assuming a greater level of resilience within complex systems and adopting a risk-based methodology for evaluating only the infrastructure that would cause debilitating impacts on the safety and security of the nation.

Adaptive SOPs. Winter 2017. How can first responders follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in a situation which requires a person to think on their feet? Adaptive SOPs. Shawn Harwood (CHDS cohort 1505), Assistant Attache / Supervisory Special Agent for Homeland Security Investigations (DHS/ICE) feels that adaptive SOPs are needed to address complex adaptive systems.


Quantifying a Negative.  Fall 2016.  For most homeland security agencies, success is measured by preventing events. However, when it comes to budgets it can be hard to quantify what didn’t happen and make the case for continued funding. For Sacramento Fire Captain Eric Saylors (CHDS cohort 1403/1404), his department’s performance was measured in terms of tangible loss reduction, but the metric was flawed because it ignored the unmeasured performance of a fire department that saved nearby at-risk properties and businesses. So he proposed a new measurement of success: the saved ratio. This new metric quantifies damages and business losses that were prevented thanks to the suppression actions of an effective fire department and includes that as part of the department’s value.


Sovereign Citizens.  Summer 2016.  Michelle Mallek (CHDS cohort 1401) is legal counsel for FEMA’s National Preparedness Directorate and decided to study ‘Sovereigns‘ because much of the terrorist discussion in mainstream media is focused on external threats.  Recent events have exposed the very real domestic challenges we face from individuals that actively espouse their anti-government views and use a wide range of tactics to confront law enforcement and government representatives.


Violent Salafi Jihadism.  Fall 2015.  Lisa Palmieri (CHDS cohort 1402) is part of DHS working in intelligence and analysis.  In this episode, Bijan and Lisa discuss how Violent Salafi Jihadism (VSJ) motivated the September 11 hijackers, but it is poorly understood by homeland security practitioners because of the muddled definitions that abound in the homeland security discourse.  She talks about the importance of using precise language to define this threat in order to achieve a common understanding of the VSJ movement and develop a unified national strategy is warranted.


Issue Attention Cycle.  Summer 2015.  In this inaugural Reflecting Pool podcast, host Bijan Karimi talks to USCG Lt. Chris Kimrey (CHDS cohort 1402) about how emerging problems often surprise lawmakers and agency officials which can result in rapid, reactive governance. Chris talks about re-purposing physics equations to quantify the primary characteristics that influence the emergence of attention pertaining to a crisis and how he developed a repeatable model whereby an emerging crisis can be evaluated by its characteristics to predict the likely reaction of government.