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Erroll G. Southers is an expert in transportation security and counterterrorism. He is the Associate Director of the DHS National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), Adjunct Professor of Homeland Security and Public Policy and counter-terrorism subject matter expert at the University of Southern California (USC), and Managing Director, Counter-Terrorism & Infrastructure Protection at TAL Global Corporation. He was the assistant chief of the Los Angeles World Airports Police Department's Office of Homeland Security and Intelligence. He is a former special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was a deputy director of homeland security for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. In 2009 he was nominated by President Barack Obama to become the head of the Transportation Security Administration but withdrew.
Southers earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Brown University (1978), his Master of Public Administration at USC (1998), and his DPPD, Doctor of Policy, Planning and Development, from the Sol Price School of Public Policy at USC (2013). Southers' dissertation focused on "Social Network Analysis: Predictive Indicators of Homegrown Islamic Terror Cells". He is a Senior Fellow of the UCLA School of Public Affairs.
Southers began his law enforcement career at the Santa Monica Police Department and served as a faculty member of the Rio Hondo Police Academy. During his four years in the FBI, Special Agent Southers was assigned to matters of counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence and was a member of the Bureau's SWAT Team. He was the Deputy Director for Critical Infrastructure Protection of the California Office of Homeland Security (2004–2006), appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger. He provided oversight of critical infrastructure protection policy, national pilot programs such as Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) and served as a member of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) Working Group, responsible for developing the NIPP.
In 2006 Southers was named the Associate Director of Special Programs for CREATE, where he developed the university's Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Homeland Security and Public Policy in the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development. Recognized as one of the university's counter-terrorism experts, he lectures at the Joint Chiefs of Staff Level IV Antiterrorism Seminars and has testified before the full Congressional Committee on Homeland Security. In 2007 was appointed Chief of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism for the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Police Department, the nation's largest aviation law enforcement agency.
Southers's interdisciplinary methodology has engaged CREATE and LAWA in pilot projects involving the testing of Peroxide-Based Explosives Detection Methodologies and ARMOR (Assistant Randomized Motoring Over Routes), designed to detect and deter terrorist pre-attack operations. His international experience includes counterterrorism study and lectures in Canada, Great Britain, Israel and China, where he was invited to assess the proposed terrorism countermeasures for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Obama nominated Southers in September 2009, but the Senate recessed at the end of 2009 without having taken up the nomination. One reason for the delay was a hold placed on the nomination by Republican Senator Jim DeMint, who opposed the unionization of TSA employees. DeMint cited Southers' possible support of the unionization of the TSA, which is forbidden in TSA's founding legislation, and inconsistencies in Southers' account of running background checks for personal reasons in the 1980s. After the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in December 2009, delays were criticized by Marshall McClain, the president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association: "Friday's terrorist attack on U.S. aviation makes it all the more imperative that there be no further delays in filling this crucial position."
On December 30, 2009, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would file for cloture on the Southers nomination once the Senate returned from the December recess. Given the Democrats' supermajority in the Senate at the time of the nomination, it was expected that Southers would be confirmed sometime in January 2010.
On January 1, 2010, a Washington Post article stated that Southers gave misleading testimony to Congress concerning allegations from 20 years previously about his questionable use of law enforcement databases regarding a former boyfriend of his wife. On January 10, 2010, Southers withdrew his nomination, saying it had "become a lightning rod for those with a political agenda".