DHS Changes Color-Coded Terrorism Advisory System

The Department of Homeland Security has announced the suspension of the multi-colored threat level alert system that has been in place since shortly after 9/11 and is working through a 90 day evaluation of a new approach.  Instead of indicating a threat level, under the new program DHS will provide a formal alert providing as much information as possible without compromising security detailing a specific, credible threat.  Below are some of the briefing points that accompanied the January 27 statement from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano:

• DHS will implement a new system that is built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact the public, we will tell you.  We will provide whatever information we can so you know how to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities.

• The new system reflects the reality that we must always be on alert and be ready.  When we have information about a specific, credible threat, we will issue a formal alert providing as much information as we can

• Depending on the nature of the threat, the alert may be limited to a particular audience, like law enforcement, or a segment of the private sector, like shopping malls or hotels.

• Or, the alert may be issued more broadly to the American people, distributed – through a statement from DHS – by the news media and social media channels.

• The alerts will be specific to the threat.  They may ask you to take certain actions, or to look for specific suspicious behavior.  And they will have an end date.

• On Jan. 27, DHS will begin a 90-day implementation period in which state and local government, law enforcement, private and non-profit sector partners, airports, and transport hubs will transition to the new system.

• This means that the days are numbered for the automated recordings at airports, and announcements about a color code level that were, too often, accompanied by little practical information.

• This new system is built on the common-sense belief that we are all in this together—that we all have a role to play—and it was developed in that same collaborative spirit.

•  It was largely the work of a bipartisan task force that included law enforcement, former Mayors and Governors, and members of the previous administration.



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