Community policing conference addresses bioterrorism and pandemics
The continuing spread of H5N1 avian influenza has raised public awareness of pandemic flu, and many communities have begun to ask how they can manage a pandemic in order to minimize the loss of life. Responding to a pandemic may seem to be the responsibility of the public health sector, but the reality is that in a pandemic, especially if isolation and quarantine orders are used to slow transmission, the criminal justice system will be profoundly affected. Consequently, criminal justice system personnel need to understand what pandemic flu is and how it will affect their daily operations, and they need to prepare comprehensive, coordinated, community-level plans to continue operations and maintain public safety during an outbreak.
The recent COPS Office-sponsored Community Policing Conference in Washington, DC, presented a workshop titled "Responding to Bioterrorism and Pandemic Threats." Three outstanding panelists offered the primarily law enforcement audience an overview of the pandemic threat and how community policing, with its emphasis on partnerships and problem solving, can inform the planning process and be integral to managing a public health emergency.