Unlike many other states, homeland security/preparedness is not a separate entity but is part of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) which is the state’s coordination center for preventing, mitigating, responding to and recovering from natural and manmade disasters. ADEM’s homeland security branch is intended to evaluate the state’s ability to respond to security threats and to develop plans/strategies for responding to an attack by foreign or domestic terrorists.
Responsibilities of the homeland security branch include:
- Determining the requirements of first responders and managing FEMA grants for their training and needed equipment
- Identifying the state’s vulnerabilities
- Organizing and training the Citizen Corps that provides assistance in emergency situations, especially before first responders arrive
- Coordinates fire, medical and food services in emergency situations
Homeland Security Specialists in Arkansas
Homeland security jobs in Arkansas involve being responsible for developing and implementing anti-terrorism preparation programs and response plans. They work cooperatively with professionals from other local, state and federal agencies to protect the state’s infrastructure in the event of a terrorist attack. They also design training programs for first responders and plan/implement simulations of various kinds of terrorist attacks to give first and other responders “real-life” experience.
Requirements for becoming a homeland security specialist in Arkansas:
- Bachelor’s degree in homeland security OR
- Bachelor’s degree in another field and a certificate in homeland security
- Experience in emergency assistance, law enforcement, etc.
- Knowledge of emergency management issues
- Ability to pass an extensive background investigation and possibly receive a security clearance
Homeland Security Training and Certification
Arkansas has four on-campus schools that offer associates, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in homeland security.
A certificate in homeland security can be earned at numerous on-campus or online schools. It requires three credit hours of study in each of the following courses:
- Overview of homeland security, past and present
- Overview of domestic/international terrorism, methods and motives
- Public-private partnerships in emergency preparedness
Homeland security graduates can take a test to obtain American Board Certification in Homeland Security (ABCHS) which gives additional credibility to one’s credentials. The test is available online at the ABCHS website.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for homeland security specialists in Arkansas is $41,340.
Terrorism in Arkansas
Attacks by foreign or domestic terrorists can happen anywhere and Arkansas is no exception. On June 1, 2009, American-born Muslim convert Abdulhakim Mufahid Muhammad (formerly Carlos Bledsoe) opened fire on soldiers standing outside a military recruiting office in Little Rock. Although Muhammad admitted wanting to kill as many soldiers as possible, he only managed to murder one young army private and wound another. He said he was angry about U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muhammad is now serving a life sentence in federal prison.
A different kind of mass killing took place on March 24, 1998 when two boys aged 13 and 11 began shooting their classmates at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas. They killed five people, including one teacher, and wounded 10 other students. They were detained in a juvenile facility until the age of 21 and are now free.