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Justice Resource Update, NCJRS: Connecting You to Justice InformationOJP SealJustice Resource Update, NCJRS: Connecting You to Justice Information
Fall 2006
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Community policing conference addresses bioterrorism and pandemics (continued)

John Barson, from the Division of Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provided an overview of biological threats, known countermeasures, pandemic flu versus seasonal flu, and how public health is preparing for a pandemic. He noted that "local preparedness is essential" because initial detection and response will most likely be at the local level. Secretary David Mitchell of Delaware's Department of Safety and Homeland Security discussed Delaware's experience with avian flu in the poultry industry, and how that experience has influenced the State's pandemic preparations. A key lesson learned was the necessity of effective communication between agencies and with the public. Secretary Mitchell stressed the importance of having a clearly delineated command system, transparency with the public and the media, and coordination with Federal, State, and local partners. Commander Cathy Lanier, from the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Office of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, discussed her department's efforts to prepare for pandemic flu. She drew attention to the fact that many communities are (by their own admission) underprepared, and discussed the development of MPD's plans for a pandemic or bioterrorist attack. These plans include not only working with other agencies and the Federal Government to manage evacuations or quarantines, but also refining policies for the continuity of operations and the health and safety of the department's officers and support staff.

The workshop demonstrated that the law enforcement community is concerned about pandemics, but little guidance has been available to help agencies develop comprehensive preparedness plans. With ongoing work by the U.S. Department of Justice and interagency collaboration among Federal, State, local, and regional agencies, our communities' abilities to cope with a pandemic can be strengthened considerably. This workshop, and others from the COPS 2006 Conference, are posted on the COPS Web site.


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