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Report: Gov. Justice appoints Mark Sorsaia as Secretary of Dept. of Homeland Security

DMAPS leader tapped for global security mission


August 27, 2018

DMAPS leader tapped for global security mission


CHARLESTON, 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 Timor-Leste.


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 felonies. 


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LAWRENCE MESSINA (304) 558-2930 Lawrence.C.Messina@wv.gov