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Law Enforcement Assessment of the Violent Extremism Threat

June 30, 2015 Comments off

Law Enforcement Assessment of the Violent Extremism Threat (PDF)
Source: Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security (Duke University/University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)

Key Findings & Methods:

  • Law enforcement agencies in the United States consider anti-government violent extremists, not radicalized Muslims, to be the most severe threat of political violence that they face.
  • They perceive violent extremism to be a much more severe threat nationally than the threat of violent extremism in their own jurisdictions.
  • And a large majority of law enforcement agencies rank the threat of all forms of violent extremism in their own jurisdictions as moderate or lower (3 or less on a 1-5 scale).
  • These findings emerge from a survey we conducted with the Police Executive Research Forum in 2014, with funding from the National Institute of Justice. The sampling frame was all 480 state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies with more than 200 sworn officers, plus 63 additional county and municipal agencies with 200 or fewer sworn officers in selected jurisdictions that experienced an incident or prosecution for violent extremism in recent years. The survey yielded responses from 339 of the larger agencies (a 71 percent response rate) and 43 of the smaller agencies (a 68 percent response rate), for a total of 382 law enforcement agencies (a 70 percent response rate), including 35 state agencies, 141 county agencies, and 206 municipal agencies, whose combined jurisdictions cover 86 percent of the U.S. population.

Almost 15 Years after the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, DHS Still Has Not Achieved Interoperable Communications

June 10, 2015 Comments off

Almost 15 Years after the September 11th Terrorist Attacks, DHS Still Has Not Achieved Interoperable Communications (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

In November 2012, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) published an audit, DHS’ Oversight of Interoperable Communications (OIG-13-06), concluding that DHS components could not talk to each other in the event of a terrorist event or other emergency. The DHS OIG has just completed a verification review and concluded that, two and a half years later, DHS components’ inability to communicate with each other persists.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Preempting mass murder: improving law enforcement risk assessments of persons with mental illness

June 9, 2015 Comments off

Preempting mass murder: improving law enforcement risk assessments of persons with mental illness
Source: Naval Postgraduate School

Across the United States, mass murder events have been on the rise for nearly a decade. This thesis found that persons with serious mental illness perpetrated a statistically significant number of these events. Currently, law enforcement agencies are often the first—and in many communities the only resource—available to assist and assess mentally ill persons in crisis. This thesis investigated the current state of law enforcement training as it relates to assessing dangerousness and the risk for violence among persons with serious mental illness. It found that there is very little training and no risk assessment tool or guide currently available to assist law enforcement officers tasked with assessing mentally ill persons for dangerousness. Subsequently, this thesis examined alternative methods and models for assessing risk, including clinical violence risk assessments, and it conducted summary case studies. These included cases in which mentally ill persons committed acts of mass murder and cases where law enforcement successfully intervened and prevented mentally ill persons from carrying out planned violence. As a result of this research and analysis, a field risk assessment guide has been developed and recommended for adoption to aid law enforcement officers in assessing the dangerousness of mentally ill persons.

Mental health and contact with police in Canada, 2012

June 9, 2015 Comments off

Mental health and contact with police in Canada, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada

Canadians can come into contact with the police for a variety of reasons, not all of which are criminal in nature. Previous research has indicated that most people with a mental health disorder do not commit criminal acts; however, contact with police is common among this population (Brink et al. 2011; Coleman and Cotton 2014). Furthermore, the frequency of such interactions has been said to be on the rise in recent decades given policy and legislative changes (Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005; Vancouver Police Department 2013; Lurigio and Watson 2010). For instance, while the process of deinstitutionalization shifted the treatment of mental health disorders from a hospital setting to a community setting, it has been argued that community based supports may not have expanded at the same capacity to make up for the loss of institutional services, which can leave police as the first responders in crisis situations or after regular health facility hours (Coleman and Cotton 2014; Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005).

Information on police interactions with people who have a mental health disorder is a priority for various reasons. Firstly, they can be among the most unpredictable and dangerous situations to which officers must respond, and can be equally, if not more, dangerous for the person with the disorder (Chappell 2008; Kerr et al. 2010; Coleman and Cotton 2014; Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005). Secondly, while the majority of such interactions are handled without harm to the officer or the person with a disorder, these interactions can be quite time-consuming, often utilizing a large portion of resources not only from police services, but from the health and social sectors as well (Lurigio and Watson 2010).

CRS — Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding (March 10, 2015)

June 4, 2015 Comments off

Assistance to Firefighters Program: Distribution of Fire Grant Funding (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program, also known as fire grants or the FIRE Act grant program, was established by Title XVII of the FY2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398). Currently administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the program provides federal grants directly to local fire departments and unaffiliated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) organizations to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other firefighter-related and EMS needs. A related program is the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters (SAFER) program, which provides grants for hiring, recruiting, and retaining firefighters.

See also: Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response: The SAFER Grant Program (March 10, 2015) (PDF)

CRS — United States Fire Administration: An Overview (March 11, 2015)

June 4, 2015 Comments off

United States Fire Administration: An Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States Fire Administration (USFA)—which includes the National Fire Academy (NFA)—is currently housed within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The objective of the USFA is to significantly reduce the nation’s loss of life from fire, while also achieving a reduction in property loss and non-fatal injury due to fire.

USFA: Operational Lessons Learned in Disaster Response

June 3, 2015 Comments off

Operational Lessons Learned in Disaster Response (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administrtation

While after action reviews produce valuable lessons, lessons alone are not the end of the story. In fact, lessons learned should rightly be the beginning of a new chapter in a fire department’s operational behaviors. Lessons without a corresponding change in operational behavior are not lessons learned.

This report identifies gaps and needs in first responder training and resources and presents solutions that serve to better prepare local-level fire services for all-hazard events and to interact with federal resources. The disasters studied were weather-related events that required responding firefighters to assume duties for which they were unprepared or for situations they never anticipated.

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