Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies: An Executive Summary

With support from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) created a series of documents to help improve the law enforcement response to public health emergencies. The documents in this series are intended to apply to agencies of all sizes and types. How the suggested strategies are implemented will undoubtedly vary according to a department’s specific size and nature.

The first report, Communication and Public Health Emergencies: A Guide for Law Enforcement, is a guide for law enforcement executives that identifies the crucial components of an effective public health communications plan. It examines the necessary considerations for both internal communications (within the law enforcement agency) and external communications (with other agencies or with the public).

The second document, Benchmarks for Developing a Law Enforcement Pandemic Flu Plan, is an interactive guide that helps readers navigate through the planning process for ensuring the continuity of law enforcement operations during a flu pandemic. An influenza pandemic is one of the most severe public health emergencies that a law enforcement agency might have to handle. This guide provides links to sample plans and templates for readers to download and customize to their own agencies.

The third document, A Guide to Occupational Health and Safety for Law Enforcement Executives, stresses the importance of occupational health and safety programs for law enforcement agencies. Currently, federal occupational health and safety requirements do not apply to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. And there is very little information on existing health and safety programs or standards for local law enforcement. This document seeks to fill these gaps by recommending a three-part approach to occupational health and safety programs for police executives to reference when developing, assessing or improving such programs in their own departments. While these documents can be used as stand-alone resources, the three guides are intended to be used in tandem to help build a comprehensive approach to preparing for a public health emergency. This publication is an executive summary of each of the documents in this series. Full versions of these three publications are available for download from the PERF and BJA websites.

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