Governor Leavitt Appointed Bob Flowers
Previous to the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Governor Leavitt needed to fill the post of Commissioner of Public Safety. [ http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/NW/ms122NW20001214b.pdf] The person who would fill the position required an existing understanding of the state organizations because the Olympics were quickly approaching. The Governor also needed a strong leader to unite the chiefs and sheriffs associations and the federal agencies with the state because they all needed to work together to make the Olympics, a tremendous security undertaking, successful.
Governor Leavitt became aware of Bob Flowers when Flowers was the Police Chief in St. George. The Governor found Flowers enlightened and pleasant, and Flowers had been a Lieutenant and Section Commander with the State Patrol. After only one meeting in Las Vegas and one other telephone interview, Governor Leavitt appointed Bob Flowers as Commissioner of Public Safety. [http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/NW/ms122NW20010114.pdf]
Developing a Statewide Command for the Olympics
The bomb incident during the 2000 summer games in Atlanta, Georgia [http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/events/1996/olympics/weekly/960805/tragedy.html ] had given the world a scare. Utah was determined to avoid any similar incidents during the 2002 games. After speaking to the governor of Georgia, Governor Leavitt determined that one major weakness of the Atlanta games was the lack of a single person in command. Governor Leavitt initiated legislation that would create a central, statewide command, but the move to consolidate authority was immediately resisted. Federal law enforcement agencies were not accustomed to such an arrangement, and chiefs of police and sheriffs were equally as unhappy about consolidating the chain of command to a state commissioner. In particular, local law enforcement agencies that had venues in their jurisdictions did not want to relinquish control of the venue to the state. A combination of factors made possible the establishment of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command (UOPSC). [http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/NW/ms122NW20011115.pdf] Governor Leavitt made a compelling argument with city and county law enforcement officials about the importance of a single commander and influenced legislature to formally recognize the consolidation of power. Also Bob Flowers was able to quickly assume the leadership role and coordinate with the different law enforcement personnel.
The issue of coordinating law enforcement and emergency response is a consistent theme and constant struggle for state law enforcement. Bob Flowers made the observation that UCAN was developed pre-9/11 for the Olympics and resistance to consolidate authority and control was understandable; but, despite the lessons learned from both those events, state homeland security efforts are still wrestling with the issue of intra-agency cooperation and collaboration.
Communications became a critical element and the need to consolidate communication systems was becoming clear. Earlier discussions for public safety organizations and the consolidation of emergency service communications became the forum for introduction of the 800Mghz radio system in the state of Utah. The State wanted to put all state fire, police, and emergency response agencies on the same frequency for central state coordination. Some of the larger municipalities were resisting the consolidation. Governor Leavitt remembers many meetings with various agencies to encourage, coerce, and cajole them to climb on board. The Governor even had to oppose more than one grant proposal in Washington written on behalf of Utah municipalities, so municipalities would not go outside the system the state had set up to share resources for the project.
This project became known as UCAN and was formed by the legislature to set up a common system for communication. UCAN makes a great case study in collaboration because despite the obvious strengths of a system of communication that would be controlled on one frequency, state and local agencies were simply unwilling to give up their autonomy, lose control of their assets, and be forced to subscribe to a state run system. Indeed, Governor Leavitt remembers the grand opening of the system 7 ½ years after UCAN was proposed, and he announced that, while pleased the system was being rolled out, it took two times longer to achieve that goal than it took to fight World War II.
Governor Leavitt recalls the moment that Joanne Newman called him and stated, “Are you watching television? We are under attack.” Governor Leavitt was in a meeting with a representative from the Gates Education Foundation. They were having breakfast at the mansion. The Governor turned on the television just as the second tower collapsed, and he concluded that he needed to go immediately to the command center. (Incidentally, the representative from the Gates Foundation had to stay in the mansion for five days and eventually rent a car to drive back to Seattle because air travel was severely limited after 9/11).
People were fearful. The Governor ordered and organized sheriff patrols and inspections of reservoirs, power plants, and every other possible asset in the state to investigate what was, or could be learned about the attack. There was no way to know whether this was just the beginning of an ongoing attack on the nation or an isolated event in New York. Utah security agencies were concerned that Olympic locations would be next. Bob Flowers met with the president of the sheriffs and chiefs associations to discuss law enforcement response. The discussions concerned any possible critical infrastructure that could be targeted by copy-cat terrorism. Bob was also in touch with the FBI, Secret Service, and military leadership. It was clear that the need for information was critical.
There was an information void on all levels of government right after the 9/11 attacks. Utah’s information sharing with the Olympics command center was better than most, given the different levels of government sharing space in the command center. The state was getting calls from the federal government wanting to know what Utah had learned. Utah Olympic Public Safety Command had become a coordination center by default. The FBI, Secret Service, and military located in the command center were receiving the very latest information and began to dissiminate this information as needed. This action later became an example of a “best practice” for information sharing infrastructures and was adopted by such agencies as the Joint Terrorism Task Forces later created around the country. Actionable information is the life blood of any organization tasked with public safety, and the ability to gather, analyze and share information in useful ways drives all actions.
Governor Leavitt and Bob recall that the 9/11 attacks brought out the best of government. The hours, days, and weeks following the attack brought about unprecedented sharing of information on all levels and openness in the processes of government.
The events of 9/11 dramatically changed the complexion of the Olympics. With the 2002 Winter Olympics only weeks away, Utah became a major focus and the Governor became hyperconscious of security. This was the first time the world would meet after the terrorist attacks, and to everyone at the time, the Olympics posed a perfect target for another attack. There was discussion about whether the Olympics should be cancelled. These discussions generally came from critics of the Olympics and small special interest groups. Governor Leavitt and others did not equivocate on the point that the games should go forward.
Information Sharing during the Olympics
During the Olympics, information sharing worked efficiently. It was very difficult getting to the point where all the law enforcement agencies were willing to trust one another and open up information sharing. (Even several years after the close of the games, this is still an issue). Each agency on each level viewed their information and their databases as proprietary. However, information sharing was critical for a safe Olympics, and the various law enforcement agencies were willing to comply for the sake of the mission. The sharing of databases during the Olympics became an unprecedented collaborative effort. Much effort went on behind the scenes at the Olympics. The FBI had effective resources the command center used to drive strategies. Because of the unique circumstances presented by the Olympics and the recent terrorist attacks, Utah’s security personnel were likely the first to work side-by-side in the FBI offices with approval of the FBI to access information. The need driving this sharing of information was motivated by the necessity to develop actionable information to protect the games. It is extremely important to demonstrate a need and benefit for all involved when information sharing is discussed. For example the command center pulled in gang information from the Department of Corrections, which became very important to the FBI, Utah DPS, and local law enforcement to strategize law enforcement approaches involving crimes and gang activity.
After the Olympics, when the Governor was on his way to Washington, there was a movement to develop a massive database called Matrix, in which all the agencies could share information with one another and the State could share information with neighboring states to allow law enforcement to have real time information to help them do their jobs. Doug Badrero was in charge of the program. The program could have been enormously helpful to law enforcement. Unfortunately and coincidently, a science fiction movie came out at about the same time called “Matrix”, which was about computers taking over the world. This name association gave the Matrix program a bad rap, and people started calling the program a secretive program that the state was undertaking. The Tribune tried to expose the program as secretive and the Governor’s office had to inform Tribune writer Paul Rolly that the Governor’s office had briefed the press about the program six months earlier. Indeed, the Deseret News had run a piece on it. Paul Rolly wrote an excellent piece on the Matix that did little to stave off public criticism. Bob Flowers recalls speaking to Marty Stevens, John Valentine, and other officials in an effort to keep the program together, and Bob had to remind several officials they had been briefed on the program and thought it was a good idea just months earlier. Many state officials, however, wanted to show their leadership by attacking the Matrix program and distancing themselves from it. Eventually, then Governor Walker pulled the plug on the program (no pun intended). This is a lesson about getting out in front of an issue and educating officials and the public so decisions are not made with knee-jerk, emotional reactions.
An interesting point to be made here is that the information provided to the Matrix program was all information available to the public. The Matrix program simply made accessing this information faster. It could save a detective working on a crime weeks, even months, but this did not seem important to individuals consumed with the government having access to information.
Tense Moments for Olympic Security
Not all public safety actions taken during the Olympics were made without criticism. The enforcement action on undocumented workers at the Salt Lake Airport became a contentious issue. The operation, carried out in preparation for the Olympics, was organized and carried out to check for criminal backgrounds and possible immigration violations at the airport that had been reported through a confidential informant. The driving force was again the terrorist attacks and the security at all airports throughout the country. The decision was made to support an enforcement action at the airport to ensure that all individuals that could get to an airplane had the right checks. The mission was carried out. Several arrests were made, which verified the validity of the original information.
Minority groups heavily criticized the action. Part of the criticisim concerned the separation of some families in which arrests were made. No one argued with the need for the mission, but the manner in which some arrests were made caused the controversy. Mayor Rocky Anderson came out publically against the law enforcement action and this seemed to drive some groups. Mayor Anderson stated on occasion that he was never advised before the action was initiated. Mayor Anderson, according to Flowers, was briefed on at least two occasions before the approval of the action simply because it was the city’s airport. He gave his approval at both briefings.
A second example demonstrating the hypersensitivity of the environment during the Olympics was a report of the possible contamination of the airport with anthrax. Flowers received a call from the Utah State Health Director, Rod Beity, concerning the possible contamination of a portion of the airport with anthrax. Mr. Beity reported a positive report from an airport air sampling device. Bob grilled the Health Director about the validity of the test because if it turned out to be a hoax, someone would have to answer to the Governor. The Health Director responded that the protocols had been followed and they had to respond as if the threat was real. This if not handled correctly would have a dramatic effect on the Olympics, Utah, and Utah leaders involved in the Games.
Flowers recalls that the subsequent call to the Governor was one of the scariest phone calls he has ever had to make. The Governor was at a skating event at the time. Flowers informed the Governor, who asked the very questions that Flowers had asked of Beity. Governor Leavitt left the event and called Rich McKeown saying, “Meet me on Sunnyside Boulevard, we’ll pick you up in eight minutes.” The Governor recalls walking down the spiral walkway of the Delta Center, coming down from the suites and thinking to himself, “If this is real, we’re in the middle of a world changing event.”
Governor Leavitt responded to the University of Utah Environmental Lab where the sample had been transported for evaluation. The process was reexplained to Governor Leavitt concerning the time needed to evaluate the samples. The process requires several steps and could take as long as 24 hours. This was a critical issue for the decision had to made as to what action should be taken with the airport. The effects of this decision would again have lasting long terms effects. The second sample did come back negative, but to know for sure would require another scientific process that would take approximately 24 hours. Governor Leavitt decided to return to the command center to evaluate the situation and decide on a plan of action.
On the way to the command center at UOPSC, the Governor asked Rich Mckeown to take copious notes because if the threat was real the response would be scrutinized minute by minute and the Governor did not want to be second guessed.
At the command center several Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) and others had gathered and some action was begun. This action included the mobilization of emergency personnel at the airport, which did catch the attention of the press. This decision-making process was outside the defined protocols and later was addressed by Governor Leavitt.
The Secret Service began to take control of the situation and began to set a response in motion without coordinating with the Governor or the UOPSC command. Mayor Rocky Anderson wanted to make a public statement about the air sample with police and fire standing behind him. It was felt by most in the room that this action would unnecessarily panic the public. The Governor had to make a strong statement to everyone in the command center that no resources would be mobilized or statements made without his approval until further notice. A detailed briefing was given, options were analyzed and discussed. It was generally felt that the second negative evaluation of the airport sample was the more accurate one. Through the briefing it was discovered that false positives were not uncommon. Rich McKeown had the idea that characterizing the issue as a public health issue rather than a public safety issue would serve to deescalate the threat and avoid panic.
The Health Department personnel met with the press. An announcement was made to the press, and in the end, there was little interest in the story. The lessons learned were to follow predetermined protocols, not to overreact, and to gather necessary and accurate information. Simple lessons but lessons that individuals may find hard to remember.
Homeland Security on the Federal Level
Right after the terrorist attack of 9/11, a new concept was proposed on the federal level to create departments of homeland security and to improve security within the borders of the United States. What was being proposed at the federal level was the creation of a large umbrella organization that had charge of coordinating and consolidating several existing agencies or responsibilities into one super-agency. The Department of Homeland Security was created with the mission [http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm] to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies. According to Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-5, the objective is to ensure that all levels of government across the nation have the capability to work efficiently and effectively together, using a national approach to domestic incident management. Governor Leavitt was part of the early formation of this concept at the national level and also wanted Utah to develop its own state-based homeland security mechanism. This new agency would support the national directive coordinating the varying state agencies.
Because of the success of the Olympics and all the work Governor Leavitt, Bob Flowers, and many others had put into security during the Olympics, a successful model emerged in Utah with UOPSC. UOPSC had demonstrated that government could coordinate communication systems, information and intelligence sharing, and law enforcement and emergency response. This provided an ideal starting point for developing homeland security. Governor Leavitt, serving as the lead governor for the National Governors’ Association, was asked to serve on a Marco Foundation taskforce for developing strategies for homeland security. He was also appointed to a White House advisory commission. All these groups were developing plans and structures for homeland security on the national and state levels. Governor Leavitt was using his position in each of those capacities to coordinate a unified solution. Governor Leavitt was likely as involved as any other official in shaping what homeland security was going to look like.
It quickly became evident to Governor Leavitt, however, that creating a national command and control, similar to UOPSC, was not necessarily the best approach on the federal level. Governor Leavitt advocated that the states should develop their own homeland security operations and then get together to form a tight network and share technology and ideas. This was considered the network solution as opposed to the mainframe solution. The Governor warned the states that if they did not lead out on the issue, they risked not only losing control of homeland security to the federal government but potentially losing some control of law enforcement. Indeed, the Governor was concerned that homeland security could cause the greatest loss of state authority in history. Governor Leavitt asked Jim Lob of Cache Valley Electric to loan him his airplane. The Governor visited a dozen states in a week to meet with governors to get them to collaborate on a proposal that would give the network solution shape. It became clear to the Governor after a short time that the Whitehouse was not going to allow the structure to develop in that way. Governor Leavitt admits that after his time in Washington as part of the Bush Administration, he learned why such a network was probably not a viable option. But at the time, he felt strongly that he needed to lead out on this for the benefit of the states.
The Governor acknowledges that the process of developing homeland security, from the beginning, was entirely chaotic. He remembers, “Two or three agencies in the federal government were trying to take charge. There was pushing and shoving between the states and the federal government. Local and state governments were trying to figure out their roles. A bunch of new money had been appropriated. Congress was trying to figure out what to do. The Administration had created the office of Director [of Homeland Security]. It was really a chaotic moment.” Bob added that the “chaos was brought on by all the money all of a sudden, and it became a free-for-all without real goals in mind.” Bob was trying to pull together state agencies, but many agencies jumped at the opportunity to secure federal dollars outside state funding channels, and for a time, the state lost cooperation and coordination. It was difficult to argue that the state needed a cohesive plan when state agencies could receive more money and support at the federal level. This scenario looked as if it may become a crisis of governance at the state level because it was somewhat unclear what the shape of government was going to be, what the sources of power were, and where agencies would turn for support. Governor Leavitt believes it can be argued that a lot of state authority was lost during that time.
Homeland Security State Level
In the State of Utah, Governor Leavitt turned homeland security over to the Department of Public Safety despite others, such as the National Guard, wanting control of it. Bob Flowers and Earl Morris from the Department of Public Safety met with Rich McKeown at the capitol to get a clear picture of Governor Leavitt’s vision. This group took a long look at the concept of homeland security at the federal level. Department of Public Safety [http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm] was to create a new state government department/bureau within the Department of Public Safety. This new agency would support the national directive coordinating the varying state agencies to work with and support the federal government.
The heads of the departments met at the capitol building to discuss the concepts, mission, and organization of this new role for government. The level of complexity soon became very apparent. Bob remembers that this process caused state officials to try and recreate government in a way that would be less fractured and more collaborative, but there was little consensus on how that should occur. All the disparate state agencies, counties, and others began to weigh in on how homeland security should be managed. The charge of working with the federal government in the event of an attack or disaster was already the state’s responsibility. But now, the responsibility was shared by many Departments such as Health, Transportation, and Agriculture. There was much discussion that state homeland security should be lead from the Governor’s Office from a cabinet level post. But, this didn’t happen. The resolution was to keep the authority for homeland security with the Governor, and Public Safety was essentially charged with coordinating the different agencies and players. Thereafter, DPS focused largely on information sharing among the agencies at all levels of government.
DPS moved forward creating a Division of Homeland Security within the Division of Emergency Services. The formal title of Homeland Security Director became part of the Commissioner of Public Safety’s role. Each Commissioner would have the responsibility to assign this role to an individual in their administration. The first Homeland Security Director was Verdi White. The problem that arose and that still exists is that DPS could reorganize roles and responsibilities within its own Department, but it has no authority to require other Departments to participate. Bob Flowers stated, “To the credit of the department heads, this was not that big an issue, although there was not a lot of active support for DPS in trying to get this thing organized. This was a source of frustration because, to do it right, we needed full by-in from everybody, but no single person was charged with sufficient authority to compel buy-in. As far as I know, this issue still has still not been fully addressed.”
Evaluation of the State System
A critical issue that needed to be addressed early was the ability to gather, evaluate, share and protect information. This became a top priority. Different formal infrastructures existed where information could be shared between governmental agencies in response to national threats, but were not connected to a mainframe concept. Historically, this information generally came through the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and was only shared with agencies that had need for the information. The concept of a Joint Information/Terrorist Center began to be discussed to more effectively share information. A Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) began to take shape much like the concept that was created for the 2002 Winter Games to assist Utah in its role in prevention and detection of terrorist event. This effort included the FBI, Secret Service, Utah Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association, the Attorney General, many other organizations participated in the concept.
Leading up to the Olympics, several issues became problematic that continue to hamper this important effort. Issues such as command, budgets, and current laws and policies all need to be addressed for this effort to move forward in an effective way. The command aspect was left in the Commissioner’s hands to convince public safety leadership in the state to participate; this command structure had limited results. For example, of the twenty-nine counties in the state, only ten Sheriff’s were interested in participating. There was no increase in budget for staffing or equipment and there existed no policy to rely on. There was plenty of legal wrangling, however, as to what information could be kept, shared, or gathered, and much of that was in conflict.
The difficult task of creating a formal structure continues, but the most difficult aspect seems to be participation of local governmental agencies. Creating an infrastructure that is networked, trusted, and valued will continue to be a challenge. There are many lessons that can be learned through this effort. One of those lessons was discussed in the conference held at the Utah Governor’s Mansion sponsored by the Oquirrh Institute. The Olympics demonstrated the importance of blending central coordination with local control. Most, if not all important information has a beginning with local government. It is clear that such information, to be of value, needs to be gathered, evaluated, shared, stored, and updated centrally. This would require a formal structure with all the necessary safeguards in place to protect sensitive or classified information.
For homeland security to work effectively, an information/intelligence sharing network must exist. It became clear to those organizing this effort in the beginning days after September 11th that such a network did not exist, other than the traditional, antiquated mechanisms. It was also clear the traditional methods would no longer meet the needs of the changing terrorist environment. The idea of gathering, sharing, and controlling information became a politicized issue. The MATRIX Concept introduced by DPS which allowed the sharing of public records gathered inside the state and then shared with other states became a very controversial issue within the Utah Legislature. (Many lessons can be learned by the study of this concept, its proposal to state leadership and its eventual cancellation. This topic is not discussed in this paper but can be researched as a way not to introduce controversial issues without first preparing leadership and the public.) The Matrix program was eventually cancelled by Governor Walker with pressure from the Utah Legislature Leadership. The Speaker of the House and President of the Senate were not in support of the program. As I met with them privately, they voiced support for the concept but did not think the Matrix program was the proper avenue. They were never clear as to why. The papers were very critical of the Matrix based upon incomplete information. Lesson learned should have been more savvy re the public relations. Should have communicate the need and the benefits and gotten out in front of the press before the they were able to characterize. Underestimated the conflict. Legislative leadership However, the local media was spending a lot of time painting the Program as something it was not, and this did have a negative influence on state leadership.
Another lesson to be learned, as pointed out by the Oquirrh Institute, is that forming the concept of a Homeland Security Department must begin with coordinating centrally, through a shared set of standards. These standards were required for state agencies to coordinate their varying roles in a united effort. For example: The Department of Health had a robust information gathering ability in tracking health related issues both inside and outside the state. DPS did not have the access or the technological ability to get access to this information and standards did not exist that would guide this effort. There were some inside the Health Department that did not see the necessity or have the desire to create a framework where such information could be shared. Personalities became a hindrance to this effort and remained a hindrance for several years. It was evident that the Health Department should remain in charge of the information and implementation of any actions that would be required.
The issue of a command in health related issues became an area that started the discussion of “who is in charge, when?” Command of events certainly would need to clear in a set of standards and polices that were going to be created as the effort moved forward. The responsibility of encouraging collaborative efforts became the responsibility of the Governor’s Office. The old adage: “If everyone is in charge, then no one is charge” was certainly apropos in the early days of forming an up a structure for the homeland security effort.
Institutional Framework as an obstacle
The Department of Public Safety was selected by the Governor to initiate this process but several issues already discussed became critical to be addressed before this effort could be effective. At the state level there was no existing structure for agencies to share information (already discussed in part), but a major event that would require the coordination of large scale action by the state which crossed a variety of disciplines would require such a structure. It was clear that command, control, and coordination of a multidisciplinary, multi-agency response would need to be defined through changes to current policy, and a formal framework would need to be created. It became even more evident when the discussion moved to supporting local events where local law enforcement, fire, emergency management public works, and even the National Guard would be major players.
The Division of Emergency Services for several years had a plan developed for such events but had not communicated this plan on any meaningful level. The institutional framework for coordinating such an event was left with DES. The concept of a terrorist event became the overriding motivation for the effort, but the decisions were made to focus on an all-hazards-approach. The responsibility of creating a homeland security integrated response was left with DES. The Division was charged with developing outcome related guidelines, which included local governmental agencies and the private industry. The outcomes were guided by the National Department of Homeland Security grant initiatives, the governor directives, and legislative initiatives. These outcomes continue to evolve currently with the federal government in the lead. DES was also charged with creating an infrastructure that coordinates with other state agencies. This concept goes to blending a central coordination with local control as described earlier and also highlighted by the Oquirrh Institute.
The infrastructure became the existing DES organization, and the processes of developing an all-hazards- approach was defined when the state adopted the National Framework for emergency response. The state adopted the National Incident Management Incident processes and this added clarity to local agencies as to the process in the event of a disaster.
Homeland security has continued to develop in Utah. Information sharing continues to challenge the leadership but there is now a formal organization supported by only a few organizations where information is gathered, analyzed, shared, and protected. This organization resides in the Department of Public Safety. Command rests with DPS. There is also a Joint Terrorism Task Force that is lead by the FBI and supported by the major agencies in Salt Lake County. Division of Emergency Services continues to be the coordinating agency inside state government where the state’s response to emergencies is coordinated. This is clearly understood and support by public safety, health, and other local agencies statewide, and it appears to work effectively. This process is supported by and frankly driven by the Department of Homeland Security through FEMA.
The driving forces are federal dollars and policy which are disseminated out to states yearly. Recent emergency events such as flooding and fires have been events where the policies are tested. The results seem to be positive in regards to natural disasters. The ability to detect, prevent and respond to a terrorist event has not generally been tested in Utah, but there is general feeling of cautious confidence that some prevention has been successful, and the response, when needed, will be robust and effective. There is no question that much progress has been made since 2001 and homeland security in Utah will continue to evolve.
Leavitt Supports Controversial TIPS Program http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/NW/ms122NW20020719.pdf
Governor’s Homeland Security Address http://archive.li.suu.edu/docs/ms122/SP/ms122SP20011014.pdf