In recent years, public-private partnerships have become the standard operating procedure for a wide variety of government activities. Whether it’s an economic development project, a major infrastructure expansion or a public health initiative, government and the private sector have been working together for years to leverage one another’s strengths to pursue efforts that advance both of their interests and the public good. One area where public-private partnerships have been largely absent, however, is public safety. After September 11th, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Paul McCabe recognized that this needed to change. So working with a number of Minnesota businesses he initiated a groundbreaking union between the public and private sectors that could eventually serve as a nationwide model and change the way we keep our communities safe.
Special Agent McCabe’s idea was pure common sense. He realized that the number of security vulnerabilities that required immediate action had expanded exponentially. Even with budget increases coming out of Washington, those resources were finite, and federal and local law enforcement officials would never be able to address all of these threats alone. He would need as many sets of eyes, ears and hands as possible. He also understood that it was clearly in the interest of private businesses to contribute to improved public safety, whether it’s guarding against terrorism or reducing street crime. After all, the primary target of the 9/11 attacks wasn’t one of the most powerful symbols of U.S. capitalism by accident.
McCabe reached out to several Fortune 500 companies in the Minneapolis area such as General Mills, Target and 3M. What came out of the meetings was that all of these companies wanted to help and felt they had a lot to offer in case of security emergencies from tents and blankets to employees who could volunteer. Eventually they would come together to form the Twin Cities Security Partnership.
This is not just a member organization. This partnership meets regularly and provides a forum in which leaders of both the public and private sectors become acquainted and explore ways to share information and resources that will ultimately make our nation a safer place.
The Partnership benefits law enforcement by expanding its pool of intelligence and resources. And through a constant exchange of information, private sector members become better informed on the best ways to handle a situation. In particular, the Partnership has created a secure Web site where members can go for information on how to help in a crisis situation.
The Partnership has also fostered an increased sense of community, boosting awareness of national security issues, helping make Minnesota a safer place.
Special Agent McCabe has big plans for this partnership and has actively worked to bring his concept to other metropolitan areas. Special Agent Michael Tabman, the head of the Minneapolis FBI office, agrees that the Partnership is a best practice that should be replicated. Tabman said, “This is exemplary, and we hope it’s a model. And it is certainly the future of law enforcement.” Public-private partnerships may have been foreign to the law enforcement community in the past. But thanks to Special Agent Paul McCabe, they seem certain to be a critical part of America’s homeland security strategy in the future.