Collaboration displayed on U.S.-Canada border
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is playing a leading role in coordinating the law enforcement activity of sister agencies in the Department of Homeland Security, as well as other federal, state and local organizations along the northern border.
Two months ago, CBP opened an Operational Integration Center near Detroit to enhance situational awareness along the border with Canada and improve the efficient deployment of forces in the region. The OIC acts as a central hub for displaying and analyzing real-time data feeds from video, radar, remote sensors and databases from sources such as unmanned aerial vehicles, mobile sensor units, ports of entry, local traffic cameras, tunnels and sensor towers along the border.
Information is disseminated to various agencies in the Great Lakes region to help with operational planning and to integrate activities. The facility enhances communication among agencies represented at the facility, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin said in prepared testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, refugees and border security.
The U.S. Coast Guard this summer will host an exercise to study how the OIC can function as command center in the event a natural disaster or other emergency, according to CBP.
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Bersin said the agency plans to further expand joint operations by exploring a joint command with the Coast Guard in the Great Lakes region. CBP also is interested in incorporating the Coast Guard into management and decision-making of its Air and Marine Operations Center, which already includes Coast Guard personnel involved in daily monitoring of the U.S. air environment.
Several initiatives were under development for a while, but collaborative efforts with other agencies have picked up pace in the 14 months since Bersin took office. He has made it a priority to break down stovepipes within CBP and across government, saying he despises bureaucratic turf wars.
During the past year, CBP established a Canada Integrated Planning and Coordination Cell designed to work across the entire agency and align CBP initiatives related to the U.S.-Canadian border under a single, dedicated team. The CIPCC has worked with the Canada Border Services Agency on developing an integrated border management framework, as agreed to by U.S. and Canadian leaders. The work is designed to lead to increased information sharing, harmonized policies and programs, and coordination on border infrastructure planning and construction.
In January, the two agencies established the Small Ports Working Group to develop a long-term strategy to more effectively manage border checkpoints with small traffic volumes in a coordinated manner.
Meanwhile, beyond the northern border, collaboration between CBP and the Transportation Security Administration on aviation security is better than ever, according to officials in both agencies. Bersin and TSA Administrator John Pistole established a senior guidance team, modeled on a similar interagency process between CBP and the Coast Guard, to better integrate strategic decision-making.
Bersin also created a Trade Integration Planning and Coordination Cell last summer as part of wide effort to get different offices within CBP to participate in developing a series of reforms to align security enforcement and trade processing and create a more seamless process for commercial shippers. ' Eric Kulisch