homeland security

Gerald Nino/wikimedia commons

From Marfa Public Radio:

The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General is out with harsh words for the agency’s eight-year-old border drone program, saying unmanned air patrols of the border are “dubious achievers.”

In a report released last week, Inspector General John Roth said the department’s own sub-agency – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – hasn’t proven the drone program is worth paying for, and that CBP should scrap any plans to expand it.

KUT News

According to a survey from Austin’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, less than 10 percent of Austinites are ready for an emergency or natural disaster. 

“People just don’t think anything’s going to happen here,” explains spokesperson Candice Wade Cooper.  “Even though Austin may not be prone to sudden emergencies like earthquakes or tsunamis, there are all kinds of things that can catch you off guard – flooding, fires, burglary. It’s important to be prepared.”


Texas lawmakers in Washington want the Department of Homeland Security to define what successful border security means.

Today, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) filed legislation that would require the department to set metrics for achievement and solutions for reaching those standards.

Cornyn says it’s an important step to take in immigration reform.

Charles Reed, Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System

The United States is returning to Mexico more than 4,000 architectural relics that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have seized across the nation.

ICE says many of the items date from before European explorers reached the North American continent. The items include pre-Columbian stones used to grind corn and other grains, statues, figurines, copper hatchets and other artifacts.

Kelly Connelly for KUT News

Here's one heck of a lunch topic: Responding to a terrorist attack in downtown Austin during South by Southwest.

That was one of the noontime subjects city officials considered yesterday, in a workshop discussing their role in case of catastrophe – such as terrorism, an infrastructure collapse or a natural disaster.

Attendees, including the members of the Austin City Council, considered a range of worst-case scenarios. One was that SXSW attack: “It is a beautiful morning in Austin – bustling, with SXSW in full swing,” a planning scenario posited. “Without warning a large explosion rocks downtown Austin … Confirmed fatalities – 83; Injuries – 200+ (some key officials and staff are known to be among them.)”

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Some 30 people gathered in front of City Hall yesterday, as part of a city-organized “flash mob” raising awareness of disaster preparedness.

The kid-aimed event began with a question-and-answer session for the little ones, complete with emergency pack prizes. Then it was time for the main event: a group dance to a hip-hop inflected preparedness song.  

Image courtesy youtube.com/user/austintexasgov

Catastrophic floods. Bio-terrorism. Nuclear attacks.

Can a flash mob and a funky beat help people prepare for such emergencies?

The City of Austin’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management office thinks it might be weird enough to work. Today, HSEM is gathering a flash mob outside of City Hall to spread its message of preparedness. The city partnered with Dance Austin Studio to design a dance accompanying a song with instructions for making a plan. (Yes, such a thing exists.)

The Texas Department of Public Safety has started a process to fire a top official who used to be in charge of administering Homeland Security Grants in the state. DPS said in a statement that the move follows a five-month investigation of Janice Bruno and alleged criminal misconduct involving a grant issued to the North Central Texas Council of Governments.