Homeland security enterprise (HSE) personnel realize that research can enhance their operations, but they need it fast. Any academically sound research typically takes at least a year -- and often longer -- to be published and reach intended audiences. The threats and obstacles homeland security personnel face may be morphing even as researchers set out to study outdated trends.
How do we overcome this gap? The question has been asked many times in all academic fields, and a partner of the BTI Institute, the Center for Law and Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso, was able to provide an answer. Creating a Homeland Security Symposium series, free to all attendees, would allow separate events to focus on and cater to specialized areas in academia and in HSE.
By focusing on niche areas such as radicalization of gangs or DNA sequencing, the symposium series forges connections between highly specialized researchers and the highly specialized HSE personnel who could benefit from such research, all while simultaneously broadening knowledge for other attendees.
PI Victor M. Manjarrez Jr. discussing the Homeland Security Symposium Series with the local NBC Television Affiliate
As a result of this vision, BTI Homeland Security Symposium #1 took place on March 31, 2016, launching the series by focusing on investigative-based interviewing. Symposium #2 explored global migration trends and the connection between migration, crime, human smuggling and human trafficking. The third symposium presented recent advancements in forensic science, revealing DNA barcoding and sequencing to be more accessible now than ever before. Symposium #4 tackled the connections between gangs, terror, and radicalization, while Symposium #5 focused specifically on Salvadorian Gangs and their influence on U.S. law and law in El Salvador.
In 2016, six symposia have been hosted, with the last one of the year, but not the series, taking place on December 1, 2016. This symposium explored the potential application of game theory in law enforcement settings.
For homeland security personnel, questions which surge to the forefront as rapid change occurs can be queried to researchers with strong backgrounds in relevant specialized areas. While official publications of research findings might take several years, the knowledge exchange between those witnessing change firsthand and those studying the change through a broader lens only further strengthens our homeland security initiatives.