Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco has added another leadership responsibility to his plate —an advisory role with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Pasco Sheriff is one of seven new members named to the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) by acting secretary Chad Wolf. The announcement came from the federal agency last month.
The HSAC is a Department of Homeland Security federal advisory committee that provides the secretary with independent, informed recommendations, and advice on a variety of homeland security issues. It’s comprised of national policy makers, representatives from state, local, and tribal governments, emergency, and first responder communities, academia, and the private sector. The 35-member council is chaired by former CIA and FBI Director Judge William Webster.
With the appointment, Nocco becomes the only elected official from Florida to serve on the council.
In an interview with The Laker/Lutz News, Nocco called the selection “a humbling honor,” that will give the area “a seat at the table” when it comes to providing and receiving input on homeland security-related matters — such as a hurricane, cyberattack, power grid shutdown and so on.
“For the whole Tampa Bay region and the state of Florida, I’m very fortunate to be in this position to help out and have our voices heard,” said Nocco, noting the role goes beyond law enforcement issues. “With Homeland Security, it is a very large and very broad organization. When you dig down into it, you realize, from transportation, to communications, to energy, this is a very large organization.”
Nocco added it’s likewise beneficial to now have a direct line to “the highest levels” of Homeland Security if a crisis arises regionally or statewide. “It’s not like I call the secretary of Homeland Security every night, but at the same time, there is that openness of if I need to get a message across, we’re able to connect through staff to the secretary very quickly,” he said.
In addition to participating in full HSAC committee meetings, Nocco is serving on an HSAC subcommittee that focuses on countering violent extremism groups, particularly in exposure to American youth. Some examples include white supremacy groups, terrorist organizations, cults “or any other ideology that promotes hate and disconnect,” said Nocco.
The subcommittee, meeting roughly every two or three weeks, is “basically going all the way upstream to prevent these kids form getting involved in these groups,” Nocco said.
One way to do that, the sheriff said, is ensuring parents and guardians warn their children about what is on the Internet and on social media. He indicated the issue is more important now, as kids are out of school for the summer and possibly stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, Nocco acknowledged the recent HSAC appointment ties in well with forthcoming developments at the forensics research and training center project in Land O’ Lakes known as FIRST, Florida’s Forensic Institute for Research, Security and Tactics.
With that project, the sheriff explained there’s an opportunity for more partnerships with Homeland Security in the way of innovation, technology and instructional programs. “I think it’s just going to strengthen what we’re doing here in Pasco County,” he said.
Nocco has been Pasco Sheriff since 2011, when he was appointed by then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Nocco was elected to the position in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He just won another term.
Previously, he served with the Philadelphia Public School Police, the Fairfax County Police Department, and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Additionally, he was a first responder to the attacks of 9/11 and the Washington D.C. sniper incident.
Other HSAC appointed members include James Carafano, vice president of The Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy; James Fuller, executive vice president of Hill + Knowlton Strategies; Hans Miller, CEO and co-founder of Airside; Cynthia Renaud, chief of police for the city of Santa Monica; Mark Weatherford, founding partner at Aspen Chartered; and Brian White, global security practice head for DBO Partners.
Published June 24, 2020