Highway Watch director of intelligence Don L. Rondeau has been named the International Assn. of Counter Terrorism & Security Professionals’ (IACSP) first annual Homeland Security Executive of the Year. Having previously served as director of safety for the American Trucking Assns. (ATA), Rondeau continues his tenure in trucking by bridging counter terrorism efforts between federal law enforcement, and businesses.
He considers his position in Highway Watch among the most crucial components to counter terrorism and intelligence gathering. “Members of the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) were nominated in the political arena, but what attracted IACSP was the Highway Watch program,” Rondeau told Fleet Owner. “People believe in it. The component of homeland security that was never done before was the successful integration of public and private interests in security.”
Some of the prime examples of this coordination include Highway Watch’s involvement in the Republican and Democratic National Conventions held at New York City, and Boston, respectively. Both these instances were widely considered successes from both security and business perspectives.
“We not only gave people a heads up, but we’ve allowed [carriers] to follow a different route. We advised [carriers] to reach out to [clients] and make arrangements that will accommodate [the customer],” Rondeau said. “But if delivery is not necessary, we advise people to delay it, and we know people did just that. We know that people looked at the RNC and delayed shipments until after the convention. They communicated and negotiated to a degree that has never been done before.”
“What aided that was good old-fashioned communication. The advisories we issued, the conference calls we had, and the suggestions we received. We distributed alternate routes— we coordinated with law enforcement to map routes that simultaneously deliver the goods and reroute the traffic,” he said, emphasizing that no single agency could take credit for security efforts that ran like clockwork. “We were a part of the planning and communications of the advisories, but I don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. We took suggestions of carriers, logistics, police departments, and the mayor’s office. And [carriers] took advantage of it.”
The IACSP award also underscores recognition of the critical role the trucking industry and highway community plays in the economy as well as a resource for intelligence gathering, Rondeau said.
“One thing that September 11 has demonstrated is if planes stop flying, our nation continues to work— it may work slower but it wouldn’t stop,” Rondeau said. “If trucking stops, our nation stops. If the highway community shuts down we don’t eat, we don’t have medicine, and nothing gets built.”
Rondeau has extensive experience in both public and private sectors, having served as a contract investigator for the Dept. of Interior and the chief security consultant for the Embassies of the State of Kuwait and Qatar. He was also CEO of the publicly traded Rondeau & Smith Inc., and cultivated numerous relationships in the Middle East, including a teaming agreement for special security projects with Middle Eastern security group, Shamco.
Highway Watch is ATA’s antiterrorism arm working side-by-side in intelligence gathering with DHS, FBI, and other federal law enforcement agencies. The Highway Watch program, which since March received a combined $40.3-million in grants from DHS, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has since expanded beyond gathering intelligence from the trucking community to the entire highway community.