Homeland Security Degrees and Certification in South Carolina

While there have not been any terrorist attacks in South Carolina, this state is one of 13 that have secured at least one terrorist conviction following September 11, 2001.  Jose Padilla was sentenced to 17 years for conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens and distribute material support to terrorists in 2007.  His intention was to acquire radioactive material and explode a dirty bomb. He was designated as an enemy combatant by the Bush administration and imprisoned in a South Carolina naval brig for three and half years prior to his trial.

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South Carolina is ranked 35th among states in federal funds received for homeland security programs in 2009.  This state is ranked 24th in number of counterterrorism and homeland security groups.  While the Department of Justice does not consider South Carolina a high priority for terrorist targets, the major metropolitan centers of Charlotte, Charleston or Columbia as potential strike points.  The FBI also considers South Carolina’s rapidly growing immigrant population a potential threat to national security.

Homeland Security Office

The Homeland Security Office (HSO) within the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is tasked with overseeing counter-terrorism operations within the state.  In order to provide the optimal level of protection the HSO conducts a variety training exercises with federal and local agencies.  HSO also provides vital resources, advice and equipment through state and federally funded programs.

In its ongoing assessment and improvement of state homeland security operations, the HSO has conducted risk assessments throughout many of the state’s counties.  These assessments include identification of Potential Terrorists or Extremists (PTE) in each jurisdiction, historical susceptibility for violence, and WMD capabilities.  It was determined that there were 68 PTEs in the state, with 57 percent of these exhibiting low potential for danger and the rest labeled under medium threat level.

How to Become a Homeland Security Professional in South Carolina

South Carolina companies often hire homeland security personnel for consultations that improve the defense posture of their organizations.  Witt/O’Brien’s is a homeland security consultancy that recently posted the minimum requirements for a Disaster Response Specialist position:

  • Possession of a baccalaureate degree in a homeland security related field; a master’s or doctor’s degree is preferred
  • At least four years of experience in homeland security operations
  • Completion of NIMS, FEMA courses
  • Certification in CEM, CRM,FPEM, AICP, or CPP
  • Completion of CommandPro or Adios training
  • Knowledge of chemical dispersants, trajectory modeling and on-site burning
  • Superior oral and written communication skills
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Proficiency managing clients and stakeholders
  • Familiarity with common computer applications

Training for homeland security professionals is conducted by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD).  SCEMD offers a wide variety of counter-terrorism courses including:

  • Mass fatalities planning and response for rural communities
  • Local situation RAPID assessment
  • Threat and risk assessment
  • Local volunteer and donation management
  • Surface transportation emergency preparedness and security for mass transit
  • Event security planning