Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes recently announced that he’s been selected to serve as the chair of the Intelligence Commanders Committee for the Major County Sheriff’s of America, an organization that represents the nation’s best law enforcement leaders.
The Intelligence Commanders Committee, headed by Barnes, will be working with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to address various threats that both local communities and the nation face.
After accepting the appointment, Barnes said one area he plans to focus on is cyber security, with recent hacking attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and meat packing industry in May highlighting the need for further work to be done on the issue.
In dealing with cyber security, Barnes told City News Service that cyber attacks are usually committed by foreign actors, and that they can largely be avoided by better educating computer users.
“It’s oftentimes someone allowing it in,” Barnes said about computer malware, which is commonly hidden in targeted emails intended to deceive victims. “Not maliciously, but opening something that takes over a system.”
The dark web will also be another area his committee will work on, which Barnes said is becoming increasingly complex for law enforcement to navigate due to more sophisticated technology being used by criminals that works to encrypt information on illicit transactions taking place.
Barnes also noted that he’s “fortunate enough to be the only sheriff in Southern California with a fusion center,” a type of collaborative homeland security hub that allows the sharing of information between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in a cross-jurisdiction manner that focuses on criminal and terrorist activity.
The sheriff added that while cyberattacks are becoming increasingly prevalent, there are other pressing issues he will be focusing on as well.
“It’s not just about cyberattacks,” Barnes said. “That’s one of the rising risks. This is also about homeland security issues, domestic violence, extremists, drug trafficking trends. It’s an all-encompassing threat horizon on a national platform.”
“I look forward to working with my colleagues on efforts to enhance the safety of both the public and our critical infrastructure,” he said after being nationally recognized by the Major County Sheriff’s of America.
After becoming Orange County’s 13th sheriff in early 2019, Barnes has led his department of 4,000 employees in using intelligence-based policing strategies and a community-oriented approach to serve county residents. To keep neighborhoods safe, the sheriff has worked to reduce the flow of drugs, mitigate the impact of homelessness, and proactively prevent crime.