John Merrill – Acting Director, First Responders and Detection, Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate
John Merrill currently serves as the Acting Director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) First Responders and Detection (FRD) division as well as the Next Generation First Responder (NGFR) Apex Program Director. Leading FRD, Merrill oversees four key operating components: Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and First Responders. Under his leadership, NGFR has developed and integrated cutting-edge technologies – allowing for a timely, efficient and safe response to disasters of all sizes. Merrill has successfully established a model for the program that expands industry involvement and collaboration with the Nation’s first responders. One of his primary missions is to advocate on behalf of first responders, encouraging industry partners within the program to collaborate directly with responders on research, development, testing and evaluation and “walk a mile in their shoes.” Prior to his role as Acting Director for FRD and Director for NGFR, Merrill was formerly the senior policy and technical advisor for DHS on GPS interference, detection, mitigation and radio frequency spectrum management. He is a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, and has worked in program and policy management; radio navigation; maritime law enforcement; search and rescue; vessel traffic services; and telecommunications.