Vigilance is job one of the Office for Bombing Prevention

Jeffrey Dade, the technology integration section chief for the Office for Bombing Prevention in CISA, said tools and information is at the heart of its mission.

The Office for Bombing Prevention in the Homeland Security Department is like an insurance company for federal buildings.

The likelihood of an explosive incident is rather small, but if there is a threat, it’s good to have the training and expertise.

OBP, which resides in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, helps prepare the Federal Protective Service and other law enforcement agencies for these and other threats.

“OBP training has really been a force multiplier with its empowered trainer program to build some capabilities with the Federal Protective Service. For protecting federal buildings, the Federal Protective Service is a primary piece of that, along with the US Marshal Service with court facilities,” said Jeffrey Dade, the technology integration section chief for the Office for Bombing Prevention, in an interview with Federal News Network. “One partner is with the Federal Protective Service National Academy at the all the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers. We trained the Federal Protective Service employees and contractors in some select courses. An example is the vehicle borne improvised explosive device detection course. You have all these different vehicles going in out of federal buildings, OBP has a course that trains people how to do that screening of that detection, which clearly enhances security at federal buildings nationwide.”

FBI says incidents remain rare

Another course focused on bombing prevention products more generally, which is aimed at both the public and private sectors.

Dade said those and other courses are on top of the posters and job aids, such as bomb threat management planning templates to help organizations develop a bomb threat management plan as well as bomb threat guides, checklists and other information to help security offices.

“We have one, for instance, that categorizes explosive threats by size, anything down from a small pipe bomb up to a car bomb, and it gives you the distances that you would want to evacuate if you had an item of primary concern,” he said.

Dade, who joined OBP in September 2023 and spent more than 30 years as a state law enforcement officer in New Hampshire, where the bulk of his career was with the New Hampshire state police as a bomb technician, said explosive incidents around the country don’t happen very often.

In the last quarter of 2023, the FBI reported 209 “explosion incidents.”

Dade said of those 209, the FBI characterized 93 as intentional bombings, and of those 93, 29 were actual improvised explosive devices, with the remaining being other types of devices, such as chemical reaction bombs and homemade military explosives.

“As infrequent as they may seem, clearly they’re happening, and that was just in three months, 209 incidents. Thankfully, most bombings are criminal in nature, not based upon terroristic motivations,” he said. “The biggest challenge is keeping people from becoming complacent because the threat persists. It really hasn’t changed. The data says that. But because it’s not on the forefront, the concern is that we’re starting to lose our vigilance.”

OBP’s data, tools help inform FPS

OBP’s goal is to ensure public and private sector organizations remain vigilant.

One way the office is doing that is through data and analysis and improved modeling software. Dade said OBP provides explosive blast modeling tools.

“Using software, it will provide a 3D physics-based model that upon not just what the explosive threat could be, but also the engineering of the structure itself, to model what the consequences of different explosive related attacks might be. That model would inform protective measures you can take to mitigate the consequences of an attack,” he said. “A model might recommend the closing of a road or the installation of bollards that would keep a vehicle from getting so close to a building, thus mitigating the consequences to both not just the structure, but the people inside and outside. That’s a great example of how those protective measures get developed, and then how they get implemented.”

Another example of how OBP keeps federal agencies and other vigilant is through information sharing. Dade said the Technical Resource for Incident Prevention (TRIPwire) Portal both takes in and shares improvised explosive device information.

“It’s used by law enforcement officers and security personnel at all levels of government to include the federal government. It combines expert analysis and reports of with awareness, information, images and videos,” he said. “The big thing is a federal agency user could submit a request for information to the threat analysis team on any information dealing with domestic bombing incidents, trends, or emerging tactics so that they can stay informed and also that will inform protective measures they might implement in the future.”

OBP’s cross-agency collaboration

Another project underway is a new platform for OBP experts to analyze the data that’s outside of the agency, both open source information that the TRIPwire team captures, but also the data that the United States bomb data center captures.

Dade said the program also is helping OBP measure its impact on public and private sector organizations.

“What OBP is doing internally to really measure what is the success rate of our programs? Where are the gaps? What can we do to stay ahead of that to make sure that we’re being successful in our mission? It’s just a good example of connecting the dots as to what’s going on outside to both how OBP programs are performing on the inside so that we’re ensuring success and thereby raising the bar around bombing prevention preparedness,” he said.

That data is key ensuring OBP’s programs are meeting the needs of law enforcement agencies.

Dade said OBP helps lead the Joint Program Office for Countering Improvised Explosive Devices, which also the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Department of Defense and several others.

“There’s a lot of initiatives that go on on the Department of Defense side that can be adopted to work, not just in the federal government, but the country as a whole. There’s strong collaboration there,” he said. “Within DHS, we’ve got a lot of initiatives right now with the United States Secret Service. A good example is OBP developed a course to help fill a gap where the United States Secret Service partners a lot with the Department of Defense to do sweeps, ahead of national special security events, protecting high-level dignitaries. OBP, working with the Secret Service, and the Department of Defense developed the course to help not just for lack of a better word, streamline the delivery, but also to standardize the way that those sweeps get done by the military personnel in support of the Secret Service. That’s a huge example of collaboration on that from within the federal government.”

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