Security Concerns

I started this entry on Monday as promised; however, the flu bug won out so here it is today.

As I mentioned Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend a symposium last week along with a large number of other public safety officials and law enforcement executives to listen to a number of individuals who are well versed on middle eastern terrorism as well as local security issues.

The symposium received some media exposure through the metro media last week. You may have seen it on the local news last Friday. In this forum; however, I’ll speak generically with respect to those who presented for their own safety and the safety of their associates.

One example that really struck me was when one of the presenters who lives in a very volatile part of the Middle East talked about how he and his wife decided to allow their teenage children to have a normal life and socialize despite the risks of suicide bombers and other safety issues. The speaker paused and stated the one restriction they have placed on their kids is that they cannot ride the same bus or same public transportations system in case it is bombed so they don’t lose both kids….The threat wasn’t from international terrorists, rather from those living within miles of their family.

The topics of discussion centered on acts of violence and how those who presented at the symposium have learned from their experiences. We also discussed how to prepare and prevent acts of terrorism. A lot of the information centered on intelligence gathering, communication, and investigation.

Side note….

We are fortunate in Minnesota that all levels of law enforcement and public safety cooperate and communicate well. There is an established network of communications that is secure that allows us to share information and to keep apprised of local, state, national and international concerns.

Most of the information contained in the briefings is general in nature and is usually advisory in nature. There have been situations that are more specific that require specific steps to be taken. I can assure you that we plan for local concerns and stay on top of what is going on around us.

Back to the symposium…

The single-most important bit of information I took away from the training was something I already knew. Every speaker reiterated it again and again. This important bit of information may surprise you. It’s even something that I can share with you here and even be specific.

The point brought forward was that deep level security investigations, international monitoring organizations, and professional anti-terrorism organizations are not the key to preventing local acts of terrorism. The key to stopping local acts of violence has and will always rest with each of you to have the ability to trust your instincts, pay attention and not be afraid to work with local law enforcement agencies to investigate suspicious activities.

Whether its car prowls, graffiti or persons scoping out a power plant or public facility, each member of the community plays an important role in keeping our communities safe. Activities like Neighborhood and Business Watch and the members who participate play an important role in our safety and security.

Community (Citizen) Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

We are also in the formulation stages of organizing an Community Emergency Response Team Program for Northfield. Sergeant Bill Olsen and our Emergency Management Director Tim Isom will be working on the initial phases of this program. Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT for short), are comprised of people who live in neighborhoods who work together in the event of a emergency or disaster, like a tornado, flood or such to account for each other and to provide information to our local Emergency Operations Center. There are several communities in Minnesota who currently have CERT Programs. The programs have been around for a number of years and have proven quite effective.

Keep checking this web log for more information about CERT as we continue to gather information and begin the organizational phase of the process.

About Gary Smith

Chief Smith has served over 31 years in the criminal justice field. He is currently a consultant assisting public and private organizations better establish community goals and ethical conduct with the members of their organizations. Chief Smith serves as a facilitator, lecturer, professor and other capacities both inside and outside the criminal justice field.
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