leader tapped for global security mission
W.Va. – West Virginia’s leading expert on law enforcement and
homeland security has been enlisted by the U.S. military to assist key partners
in Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Deputy Security Thom Kirk of the
Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety is advising a multinational
group that includes Indonesia, one of the world’s largest and most populous
nations, at the request of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command.
As part of this assignment, Kirk addressed
a multinational conference in Manado earlier this month. There, he explained
how information-sharing by law enforcement and other agencies can help thwart the
drug trade, human trafficking and slavery, piracy, illegal fishing and the transoceanic
smuggling of stolen and counterfeit goods.
Kirk helped found and lead the West
Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center, which marked its 10th anniversary
in March. Developed in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, fusion centers allow law
enforcement and public safety agencies, as well as private sector partners, to
share information, resources and expertise. The fusion center approach
harnesses their respective strengths to prevent, detect, investigate and
respond to all hazards – including terrorist and criminal activity.
“Every day, Military Affairs and Public
Safety employees like Deputy Secretary Kirk are making historic contributions
to keep the United States and West Virginia safe,” said DMAPS Secretary Jeff
Sandy. “In today’s world, it so important to stop criminals and terrorists in
their place of origin versus them reaching American soil.”
West Virginia’s is among 79 state and
local fusion centers in the U.S., and Kirk is a longtime board member and
executive officer of the National Fusion Center Association. He represented
that organization at the Manado conference, meeting with officials from Indonesia
as well as Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and
These six nations have formed the Coral
Triangle Initiative, to address their region’s most pressing economic and
environmental issues including food security and marine biodiversity. Together,
the member countries encompass nearly 2.5 million square miles between the
Pacific and Indian oceans. Indonesia alone consists of more than 13,000
islands, underscoring the far-flung nature of the counties in this region.
“Development and sharing of information and
intelligence is critical to the health, safety, and wellbeing of this nation,”
Kirk said. “Now, with the steps that the Coral Triangle Initiative is taking,
in conjunction with the National Fusion Center Association, the U.S. Pacific
Command, and many others, we can expand our knowledge while sharing vital and
sometimes crucial intelligence on a global scale.”
Representatives from Fiji, Futuna,
Thailand and Tonga also attended the Manado conference. While there, Kirk participated
in a workshop and a mock exercise he helped organize to demonstrate the
benefits of the fusion center approach.
“DMAPS appreciates Governor Justice
approving this mission and understanding its importance to national security,”
Secretary Sandy said. “In addition, it is important to note that the U.S.
Pacific Command paid for all travel and expenses for this mission.”
A Navy veteran, Kirk’s career in law
enforcement is grounded in his more than 24 years with the West Virginia State
Police. He conducted major undercover and anti-narcotics trafficking investigations.
He helped start its Intelligence Exchange and its Bureau of Criminal
Investigations, leading the latter. Kirk rose to the rank of colonel and State
Police superintendent before retiring.
Having earned a law degree while with the
State Police, Kirk has also been both an assistant county prosecutor and a special
assistant U.S. attorney. He is a sought-after instructor, guest speaker and
expert witness on such subjects as undercover operations, drug investigations,
organized crime, police administration, behavior sciences and major case