Amtrak consolidates security functions in new department

Monday, April 30, 2012

WASHINGTON—Amtrak is consolidating the security and emergency preparedness functions for all its divisions under a new corporate department led by a former FEMA administrator.

There are eight emergency management-related functions currently located in various Amtrak departments, which will be consolidated under the new emergency management and corporate security department. The new department will be responsible for emergency preparedness, continuity of operations and corporate security risk strategy, the department's new chief, Susan Reinertson, told Security Director News. The Amtrak Police Department will not be brought under the new department.

Reinertson, who joined Amtrak in January 2010 to develop its continuity of operations program, was in the process of developing exercise programs on emergency management and contingency planning when she began to notice redundancies, and that the areas that needed improvement were common across siloed divisions. In order to fill in the gaps, Reinertson advocated for an enterprise-wide approach. “Bringing it together means we can continue to focus on safety, but we can have more of an enterprise-wide view and not have all those redundancies and be more efficient in how we’re doing our corporate security and emergency management functions," Reinertson said.

Previously, Reinertson was administrator of FEMA Region 10, which encompasses Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho. Before that she served as emergency management director and homeland security advisor for North Dakota.

Since 9/11, Amtrak has beefed up its physical security program, according to Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm. As an example, Kulm cites the number of K-9 dog teams, which has increased from 15 to 50 in the past decade. "We're consolidating planning, but we're also very active on boots-on-the-ground, police on the trains, cameras across the network," Kulm told SDN. "There's a lot going on here on the security front."

Reinertson believes the formal structure of the new corporate security department will be ironed out by the end of the summer, though she said the consolidation process is never complete. "It's a fluid process in this business," she said. "I think things will always remain to be flexible so that if something isn't working out [it can be] moved around a little bit."