June 26, 2009
© 2008 NewsWithViews.com
The Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security recently hosted a teleconference for law enforcement agencies and associations such as the National Association of Chiefs of Police to discuss the Obama Administration's interest in using the military during "emergencies."
Fortunately, NewsWithViews.com had exclusive access to the discussion and the explanations by Homeland Security and Defense Departments officials.
Officials announced during the teleconference that the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate met with the Commander, US Northern Command, General Gene Renuart, to discuss "pre-disaster planning, response and recovery in support of the federal response to the 2009 hurricane season as well as wild fires, floods and other potential disasters."
The meeting reinforced the important relationship between the two organizations and focused on the operational role of US Northern Command and what resources and skills they bring to any major Federal effort related to all-hazards preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. It was also an opportunity to meet operational leaders who would fill key positions in those support efforts.
"NORTHCOM plays a vital role in disaster response in support of state and local officials," Fugate said. "I am impressed by their commitment to teamwork and interoperability. They are leaning forward and are solutions-oriented partners among the nation's emergency response team."
"We are committed to teaming with and supporting our civilian partners," added Renuart. "If our federal partners, state and local officials are successful in responding to contingency operations, then ultimately we are successful. We look forward to our continued collaboration and cooperation.."
However, many law enforcement executives and organizations went on the record saying they did not appreciate the prospect of federal troops usurping the authority of local and state law enforcement agencies or the role of the National Guard unit currently under the control of governors.
"My initial reaction is: why are we allowing federal troops to basically invade the sovereignty of individual states when each state has its own law enforcement agencies and each state possesses an armed and trained National Guard and, in the case of some states such as New York, a trained militia?" according to New York police officer Edna Aquino.
"We have not used armed federal troops in New York since the Civil War when Union troops and Navy battleships attacked dissenters who opposed conscription by the Union Army," she added.
According to officials from the Homeland Security Department, FEMA and Northern Command share a common interest and a unified approach to disaster response and recovery.
"Both organizations also understand that the most effective plans to save lives and protect property begins with preparedness. This meeting was an important stepping stone to ensure mutual preparedness and effective planning in support of state and local officials," said one official.
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