Part II: Creating vigilant communities for homeland security
Training was brought to Emery County to help prepare the communities for any emergency. The following is part II in the series concerning training for homeland security. Critical thinkers are: inquisitive with regards to a wide range of issues; concern to become and remain well-informed; alertness to opportunities to use critical thinking; trust in the processes of reasoned inquiry; self-confidence in one's own abilities to reason; open mindedness regarding divergent world views; flexibility in considering alternatives and opinions; understanding of the opinions of other people; fair mindedness in appraising reasoning; honesty in facing ones own biases, prejudices, stereotypes, or egocentric tendencies; prudence in suspending, making or altering judgments, willingness to reconsider and revise views where honest reflection suggest that change is warranted.
Trainer Richard Hendrik encouraged everyone to look at what they considered leadership characteristics. He listed them as the class added their comments. Good leaders understand their own strengths and weaknesses; are good organizers; open to new ideas; set high standards for excellence; remain optimistic when things go wrong; sees things from others point of view; have a sense of what matters to others; assesses needs and fits the solution to the problem; enjoys the success of others; can deal with office politics; finds win-win solutions in negotiations and conflicts; a good leader is someone who others want on their team; good leaders are perceptive.
Hendrik said good leaders have the ability to find common ground and build rapport.
Hendrik talked about community policing and how things have changed over the years. The concept of community policing is, "The philosophy wherein the police and the community share resources and responsibility for solving recurring problems that directly or indirectly threaten community safety or livability," said the Western Community Policing Institute.
Hendrik related an incident he saw come into play in Logan when he was the police chief there. He said they had car burglaries that were just outrageous. So he and his force picked this problem to place emphasis upon for a time. They assigned each officer a neighborhood to patrol and take care of above and beyond their other duties. These officers got out in those neighborhoods assigned to them and they met the people and they enlisted the help of the people in combatting these car break-ins. Within a short period of time the car burglaries were way down.
"Pick a problem and work on it," instructed Hendrik, "Enlist the help of volunteers get everyone involved in solutions."
Policing has moved through many phases through the years. With the tragic events of September 11, 2001, then policing changed again and Homeland Security entered a new phase.Some freedoms have been lost in order to keep the population safe and prevent future terrorist attacks.
Hendrik said many decisions made now are based on fear; fear of another attack, fear of natural disasters and other events. Hendrik said if everyone is prepared then those fears can be diminished and confronted on a community level as well as individual preparedness.
Everyone in the class took a survey which determined their level of personal preparedness. Most class members were well prepared in the event of a disaster. But, there were things that everyone could work on to increase their preparedness. Most notably was written action plans in time of emergency. Families need evacuation plans, they need gathering points in case of fire, earthquake and other natural disasters. Who is your contact person outside the county, outside the state? Where do you go? What do you take with you. Everyone was encouraged to have their 72 hour kits ready to go.
In 2002 the White House issued this statement on Homeland Security. "Homeland Security is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recovery from attacks that do occur."
Hendrik split the class into two groups. One group was to defend civil liberties and the rights granted in the constitution to each citizen of America. The other group was to argue for the case of giving up certain rights and liberties for the sake of homeland security.
The two groups went into separate rooms to plan their strategy. It was difficult for the group who was to argue for decreasing rights for increased security. The civil liberties group gave their opening statement. They said that America would fail if these liberties are taken away. America was founded on the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You don't have the right to take them away. We need to live under ethic and morals if we give them up we are doomed. We will fight to keep our liberties.
The opposing group gave an opening statement too, they said because we value our liberties; we will preserve our rights in ways that don't endanger the group. Our airforce was built on the honor system and what was best for the group. Profiling is a sound practice and we will use it to gain knowledge to protect the citizens as a whole. We will track illegal chemicals coming into our country and find the sources of the money.
The two groups argued their points back and forth. The above statements are not true statements, but just arguments used to state their case.
Hendrik said the classes always become impassioned when talking about the rights and liberties Americans hold so dear and sacred. Just the thoughts of giving up any of these liberties is cause for heated discussion.
Hendrik had the groups work together to form vision and mission statements and he discussed the differences. The vision statement is what success will look like, how will we know we have been successful? Hendrik said another important step is to evaluate the work your committee does to see what has been accomplished.
Hendrik encouraged everyone to prepare for the unknown emergency. "Every individual has a responsibility not to be a burden in a time of disaster."