National Institute of Justice Journal Issue: 260 Dated: July 2008 Pages: 8-11
This first part of a two-part series on interagency coordination in responding to the 2005 terrorist train bombings in London, England, focuses on lessons learned in addressing barriers to interagency coordination in responding to large-scale emergencies.
The most important lesson learned was the importance of up-front planning and ongoing collaboration and training by all agencies that will be involved in large-scale emergencies. Such planning and collaboration should involve the development of standing procedures for rapidly recognizing and declaring a major incident that will involve multiple agencies. The designed multiagency preparation and response should be rehearsed, used consistently in actual emergencies, and assessed after training events or actual responses. A recommended preparatory program is a type of "liaison" model, under which personnel from one agency are assigned to work in other agencies for periods of time, so as to facilitate communications and on-site consultation across agencies. Other activities that facilitate collaboration are joint training, joint planning sessions, and informal social events. Such activities should be promoted and reinforced by senior management. Four general barriers to the implementation of the aforementioned activities are specialized agency jargon that impedes cross-agency communication, the unwillingness of agency leaders to give priority to committing qualified staff and resources to collaboration efforts, differing subcultural standards of behavior and mission orientation, and legal and structural differences among agencies. The July 2005 terrorist bombings in London are just one example of a complex event that required extensive response planning and training. Other examples include public health outbreaks, serial violence similar to the Washington-area (United States) sniper attacks, and natural disasters. Identifying and developing a national coordination model and drawing lessons from earlier cases should improve a nation's ability to respond to major security events. A listing of 3 information sources and 4 notes
Date Published: July 1, 2008