Homeland Security head visits LA

-A A +A

State cabinet head seeks input into local needs

By Carol A. Clark

The Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Michael Duvall spent about 90 minutes in Los Alamos Friday determining the needs of the local emergency management office.

“I’ve been with the department since October of 2002 and this is the first time we’ve had a cabinet secretary ask us what we need,” said Coordinator Philmont Taylor of the Los Alamos County Emergency Management Department. “On his initiative, Secretary Duvall wants to go out and personally meet all of the emergency management coordinators around the state and sit down and chat with them to get a better understanding of what’s going on in their communities.”

Gov. Susana Martinez selected Duvall to head the state’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management early this year. The state senate confirmed Duvall Feb. 23.

He is tasked with overseeing and coordinating the state’s efforts for the prevention, preparedness and response and recovery for all hazards, disasters, emergencies and terrorist acts. He also must ensure that the department serves as the bridge between state and federal government and all cities, counties, pueblos and tribes of New Mexico for homeland security and emergency management activities.

“Secretary Duvall is a tireless worker who is fully committed to his mission of keeping our state safe and secure,” Martinez said at the time she appointed Duvall. “His hard work will help to ensure that we are making proactive efforts to protect New Mexicans from threats of all shapes and sizes while preparing to respond to any emergency or natural disaster.”

Earlier this year, Duvall visited Los Alamos and met with Police Chief Wayne Torpy and security officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory and SOC, the lab’s contracted security force, Taylor said.

“On that visit, the secretary didn’t have an opportunity to meet with me or to tour the newly renovated police department where I have my office,” Taylor said. “He comes from an Air Force background and I come from a Navy background so we got along well. I think he’s doing the right thing and that he brings some good skills to the job. He was concerned about us as emergency managers and whether we’re getting the support we need from the state — never have I been asked, ‘How are we doing and what can we do better?’”

Taylor explained that emergency managers are out there on the “sharp end of the spear” and said it’s very much appreciated that Duvall wants to know what their needs are and how the state can help them do their job better.

Duvall retired as a colonel from the United States Air Force in June 2010 after 26 years of military service. Before his appointment by Martinez, he served as the installation commander at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque.

As commander, he was responsible for security, emergency management and all support operations of the large and diverse industrial military complex that included Sandia National Laboratories.

Duvall graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with academic and military honors. He served as a fighter pilot, graduating from the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.

He accumulated more than 3,300 flying hours and was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for flying operations in Desert Storm. Duvall also was awarded a Bronze Star for his role as a vice wing commander in Afghanistan.

In addition to multiple flying and command assignments, he served as an air operations planner and analyst at the Pentagon and as the U.S. Pacific Command Director for Exercises and Training.

Duvall holds master’s degrees in strategic studies and military history.

He resides in Albuquerque with his wife and two daughters and has a son attending the U.S. Air Force Academy.