Civil Disturbances and Emergency Preparedness

August 19 2014

Managing Large-Scale Security Events: A Planning Primer for Local Law Enforcement Agencies
Download the primer.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), civil disturbance is “a civil unrest activity such as a demonstration, riot, or strike that disrupts a community and requires intervention to maintain public safety.” Civil disturbances, or unrest, can cause a variety of subsequent issues such as violence and assault, disorderly conduct, vandalism.

The recent, intense events that have transpired in Ferguson, Missouri, serve as a significant reminder to businesses, including institutes of higher education, to develop and maintain or review comprehensive emergency preparedness response operations plans within the emergency management system. Emergency operations plans define the scope of preparedness and incident management activities necessary for an institution. 

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance developed a comprehensive planning primer for law enforcement regarding the management of large-scale security events that “highlights major findings learned from previous police departments related to planning, finances, logistics, operations, and command of a large-scale security event.”  The consideration for potential violent demonstrations is included and the following areas are outlined:

  • Pre-Event Planning
  • Core Operational areas
  • Post-Event Considerations
  • Planning Toolkit

Download the planning primer (PDF), Managing Large-Scale Security Events.

The following resources are also available at no cost:

Law Enforcement Use

Released for official use only are the findings of a focus group of college and university police executives for preserving order and maintaining safety during protests and demonstrations on college and university campuses. This document covers protecting the citizen’s and community member’s rights, protecting the health and safety of the demonstrators, ensuring the safety of responding officers, and facilitating the continuity of university operations. You will also find the following areas outlined:

  • The environment
  • Planning and Management
  • Strategies and Tactics
  • Tasks and Issues During the Event Stages

Law Enforcement personnel: For a copy of this document, please email your request with “Maintaining Safety and Order on Campuses” in the subject line.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA advises: Be Informed. Develop a Business Continuity Plan. Prepare and practice your emergency plan. Secure your facility, equipment and cyber security. Promote family and individual preparedness.

FEMA provides an online resource library, which is “a searchable web-based collection of all publicly accessible FEMA information resources, including, but not limited to: CDs, DVDs, publications, brochures, guidance and policy papers, program regulations and guidelines, forms, disability resources, audio and video files, posters, slide presentations. It allows users to locate, download, save, or print items from the web.

Resources include:

Preparedness Tips for School Administrators

Policy, Strategic, and Doctrinal Products

  • This document provides information for school administrators and leadership to use as they consider youth and disaster preparedness in their districts.

Building Partnerships to Reduce Hazard Risks: Tips for Community Officials, Colleges and Universities

  • This collection provides centralized access to FEMA’s policy, strategic and doctrinal documents and resources.
  • This brochure illustrates how partnerships between institutions of higher learning and State and local governments can benefit students, constituents and the public by pooling resources and information.

Safe Rooms

  • This provides resources related to assessing, building, and maintaining safe rooms.

Also available is a course designed to introduce the Incident Command System to persons involved with emergency planning for higher education institutions: Introduction to the Incident Command System for Higher Education.

Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools

The Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center provide free resources regarding campus security and emergency management planning, to include free webinars on the following topics:

National Incident Management System

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work together seamlessly and manage incidents involving all threats and hazards—regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity—in order to reduce loss of life, property and harm to the environment. The NIMS is the essential foundation to the National Preparedness System (NPS) and provides the template for the management of incidents and operations in support of all five National Planning Frameworks. 

NIMS components link together and work in unison to form a comprehensive incident management system. NIMS components include:  

  • Preparedness
  • Communications and Information Management
  • Resource Management
  • Command and Management
  • Ongoing Management and Maintenance

The NIMS Training Program lays out a conceptual framework that maintains a systematic process for the development of training courses and personnel qualifications. To access their training program, visit the NIMS Training Program (PDF). For a summary of NIMS training course recommendations for key personnel at higher education institutions, download the Key Personnel and NIMS Training for Schools and Higher Education Institutions (PDF). 


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