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Together we are stronger

IPSA's Public Safety Column

The IPSA's Public Safety Column is an opportunity for our members and corporate sponsors to provide thought leadership articles about all topics facing public safety. 

The articles we publish are not necessarily the views of the IPSA, rather they are opinions shared by each contributor.

  • 03 Oct 2017 5:48 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Shirl Tyner, Lexipol, an Official IPSA Supporter

     It’s 1702 on a Friday afternoon. Suddenly, the call of officer down blares across my police radio. I am several miles away from the incident, having dinner with some officers. We drop everything and run out the door.

    As a non-sworn employee, I know it’s not my place to respond immediately, but I also know I’ll be needed. I don’t want the scene jeopardized in any way. So my trainee and I drive as fast as we can to get there. Traffic is a nightmare. At one point, we drive on the sidewalk; it’s the only way to get through, and nothing is more important than getting there. I know the officer; he’s on my team. He’s a friend.

    Despite my lack of lights and siren, I arrive just after the officers from my group. The suspect is gone; he’s taken the officer’s gun and car. A manhunt is underway. The scene is secure and the officer has been transported. We lock down the crime scene and wait, knowing we will be spending the next 8 to 10 hours there. At first, I think the worst part is not knowing whether the officer has survived. But then word spreads that he has died, and I discover the worst part has just begun. For the next several hours we work the most difficult scene I have ever faced. The emotions are overwhelming. Many times, we have to stop to find a private place to cry before continuing.

    Well after midnight, we return to the station, exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. We had been told peer support and the counseling team would be available for anyone who needed someone to talk to. But when we inquire, we’re told they have all gone home.

    How could we have been forgotten? Everyone was exhausted no doubt, but how could they forget those of us who just spent several hours at such a difficult crime scene? I wanted them to care about what I had just been through. I wanted someone to listen to what I was feeling about the things I’d seen, smelled and heard. I had touched his blood, seen the evidence of a struggle—I had visions I knew I would never forget. But instead, I had to go home, alone, with it all built up inside me.

    I’m sure my department did not intentionally forget about us. Perhaps it was the “out of sight, out of mind” perspective, or maybe everyone was so exhausted they just weren’t thinking clearly. I knew they cared about us, but I felt lost and very unattached. Unfortunately, my experience is repeated all too often in departments across the country. Even as law enforcement continues to improve critical incident stress management for sworn officers, we are in danger of letting all our other employees fall through the cracks.

    Trauma affects everyone

    It's easy to understand why peer support responds after an officer-involved shooting, a serious firefighter injury or a fatal collision.

    • But what about the effects on members who were not on scene but knew the personnel involved?
    • What about those unsung heroes who wait on the sidelines doing whatever they can to help, but feel helpless just the same?
    • What of the dispatcher who is trying desperately to get assistance to an officer struggling with an assailant?
    • Or the evidence technician who is processing the scene in which an officer she knows was critically injured or killed?
    • What of the clerk or custodian who was a close friend of the firefighter killed in a fire?
    • Or the records clerk who must process reports and photos of a child abuse victim or department employee?
    • Or the volunteers pressed into service to direct traffic at a grizzly crime scene involving an officer they know?

    These and many other incidents occur all too frequently. And just as frequently, many non-sworn personnel are left out of the peer support process as well as the incident debriefing.

    Sometimes, we create divisions between sworn and non-sworn that seem to make sense, but can have unintended painful repercussions. A few years after the incident that began this article, an officer at a neighboring city committed suicide. As a supervisor, I encouraged my team to attend the funeral if they wanted to, and I went with them. I had been through a police funeral and I knew all too well the feelings of loss and heartache at losing a fellow officer.

    In the church, I noticed the non-sworn members from the agency were not sitting with the sworn officers in the front row. When I asked one of them why, she told me they were not allowed to walk in with the other officers and sit with them because they were not sworn.

    My heart sank. The employee went on to tell me their department did not treat the non-sworn the same way; they were routinely left out. She expressed the feeling of being forgotten or not as important. The officer who had committed suicide was a friend of hers. She was devastated he had taken his own life and that even as a close friend she had been unaware he was so sad. The feelings of guilt and shame overwhelmed her—and here she was in the back of the room, feeling as though she didn’t matter.

    Although I had only met her a few moments earlier, I felt connected because I knew these emotions all too well. I told her how my department had grown so much in how they treated their non-sworn and I encouraged her to speak to someone to let them know how she felt. These situations are usually the product of leadership being oblivious, rather than intending to hurt someone. Until someone speaks up, things will never change.

    There is definitely a brotherhood among officers, firefighters, paramedics and the like. But those in a support role are part of that brotherhood because every day they are there beside them. Just because their role is different does not mean traumatic events don’t impact them in the same way. Non-sworn employees aren’t looking for recognition or special treatment; they just want to belong because they are part of the team.

    A call to action

    What can your agency do to ensure all affected personnel are taken care of following a tragic event? Here are a few practical suggestions:

    • Ensure your critical incident checklists include identifying non-sworn employees involved in the incident. Critical incidents are chaotic and complex; it’s easy to overlook those who are not first responders or who were not directly involved. Providing incident commanders with a simple checklist to jog their memory can go a long way to ensuring non-sworn employees have access to the same post-incident resources as sworn employees.
    • Include a non-sworn employee on your peer support team. Diversity of perspective is important in peer support. Incorporating a civilian employee on the team will help you better address the mental health needs of both sworn and non-sworn members.
    • Ensure non-sworn employees know how to contact peer support and mental health resources. Reach out to employees who can’t attend debriefings or support sessions to let them know how to access hotlines and other resources. Better yet, consider all employees when planning such sessions, and hold multiple sessions until everyone is reached.
    • Follow up with chaplains and peer support team members. Helping your colleagues deal with mental and emotional stress takes a tremendous toll. Who cares for the caregivers?

    We are becoming much better at taking care of our civilian employees and volunteers, but we still have a long way to go. We need to look out for one another. Critical incidents affect us all. If we value our co-workers and we are serious about the investment we have made in their lives, we need to be serious about providing them care following trauma. Let us commit to leave no one behind.

    The Lexipol Law Enforcement Policy Manual and Daily Training Bulletin Service provides essential policies that support all officers and members of the department. Departments can use it to add policies and procedures specific to their agency. Contact us today to find out more.

    About the Author

    Shirl Tyner is a Management Services Representative for Lexipol and has 25 years of law enforcement experience as a civilian (non-sworn) employee, serving with the Oceanside (CA) Police Department and the Tustin (CA) Police Department. Her tenure included positions as front desk officer, field officer, report writer, field evidence technician, crime scene investigator and fraud investigator. In many of these areas she held supervisory positions, and she served as a field training officer for 20 years. Shirl has experience as a Trauma Intervention Volunteer and has been heavily involved in peer support, with a special focus on PTSD. A graduate of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Deputy Leadership Institute, she has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Graduate Certificate in Forensics and Crime Scene Investigations and is currently working on a master’s degree in Forensic Science. Shirl teaches Criminal Justice and Forensic courses at both the high school and college levels.

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  • 02 Oct 2017 3:08 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Tom Joyce, Vigilant Solutions, an official IPSA Supporter

    I can’t believe it has been more than a decade since September 11, 2001. I was a first responder that day, and I wanted to share some stories about the ancillary events of 9/11 and the detectives of the NYPD 79th Detective Squad.

    Crime doesn’t stop

    Like many members of the NYPD, the detectives of the NYPD 79th Pct. Detective Squad, where I was the “Whip,” responded to the events at the World Trade Center. We were critical in helping people evacuate Manhattan, getting them to modes of travel such as buses and trains (subway and commuter) in Brooklyn. During the terror attacks at the WTC and the massive evacuation, the detectives were also tasked with three unrelated homicides that same day. One case occurred the night of 9/11, when Henryk Siwiak was shot and killed while walking to work. The second case was a double murder that occurred a month earlier when a mother and her infant baby boy were stabbed to death by her husband and left behind in their apartment.

    Additional homicides in NYC on 9/11

    Henryk Siwiak, a Polish immigrant was heading to his first day at a new job when he found himself at the wrong subway station. Unfortunately, Henryk became the victim of a robbery shooting in which he sustained fatal injuries. He spoke no English and was most likely disoriented, as he was approximately two miles away from the Pathmark supermarket where he was due to work. Sadly, Henryk’s case didn’t get the normal crime scene response to gather information, collect evidence and memorialize the scene due to strained resources from the events that had occurred earlier in the day. Still to this day, Henryk’s case remains unsolved. However, because of the dogged determination of my former esteemed colleague Detective Mike Prate, the case was never forgotten; just like the victims at the WTC.

    In addition to Henryk’s case, the squad was also tasked with investigating a double murder, which occurred in early August within the confines of the 79th Precinct. The offender was in the hospital after receiving severe injuries from being hit by a car. Due to to the skillful interview techniques of the assigned detective Chris Scandole, he was apprehended. In the middle of our response to the WTC attacks and the evacuation of NYC, I am proud to say the squad investigated this incident thoroughly; processed the arrest that night and the offender was ultimately convicted and sent to prison.

    First responders’ jobs never stop

    So, while NYC and the country had come to a complete stop and the world was processing the horrific events of 9/11, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn was still business as usual. From being tasked to evacuate the city to canvassing and solving homicide cases, the events of 9/11 helped every member of the NYPD who ever worked that job know they are the finest. And I am proud to say that in the midst of the chaos of 9/11, I also saw “the Greatest Detectives in the World” do what they do best – get it done.

    About the Author

    Tom is a retired member of the NYPD in the rank of Lieutenant Commander of Detectives. He commanded the NYPD Cold Case Squad upon his retirement and additionally held many other roles within the detective and organized crime bureaus. Prior to working with Vigilant Solutions, Tom was the Director of Law Enforcement Market Planning for LexisNexis Government Services. Tom often lectures on various subject matters relating to Homicide Investigations and has published numerous articles on criminal investigations. Tom is currently a member of the International Homicide Investigators Association’s Advisory Board.

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  • 11 Sep 2017 12:02 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Columbia Southern University, an Official IPSA Supporter

    Human trafficking is perhaps one of the most insidious crimes that targets thousands of men, women and children—young and old, rich and poor—in the U.S. and abroad. Some may think this crime only exists outside their communities, but the reality is that the U.S. deals with trafficking just as much as other nations.

    Statistical reality

    Human trafficking, as defined by federal law, includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Human trafficking of either type does not require movement, either within the U.S. or across a border. And its prevalence can be seen in these statistics:

    • In 2016, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them were likely sex trafficking victims.
    • According to the Office of Justice Programs under the U.S. Department of Justice, 82 percent of reported human trafficking incidents in the United States between January 2008 and June 2010 involved allegations of sex trafficking: labor trafficking accounted for 11 percent of incidents; and other or unknown forms of human trafficking made up the remaining 7 percent.
    • In 2016, human trafficking in the United States rose 35.7 percent from the previous year, according to data from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which fielded 26,727 calls in 2016. California was the No.1 state with 1,323 cases followed by Texas with 670 and Florida with 550. All three states reported an increase in trafficking crimes.

    While these statistics are grim, there is hope as more private and public agencies, companies and government law enforcement offices work to combat the exploitation and slavery of individuals in the U.S.

    Accepting the unfortunate reality to build awareness

    One of the key weapons used to fight human trafficking is awareness. The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons offers many tips on what citizens can do including 15 ways to fight trafficking. They also denote the indicators you should look for in someone who may be a victim of human trafficking:

    • Answers appear to be scripted and rehearsed
    • Employer is holding identity documents
    • Inability to speak to individual alone
    • Living with employer
    • Multiple people in cramped space
    • Poor living conditions
    • Signs of physical abuse
    • Submissive or fearful
    • Under 18 and in prostitution
    • Unpaid or paid very little

    Educational opportunities

    For those in law enforcement, social services or a related field, there are courses to help you gain more insight and awareness on human trafficking. These classes can be vital to clearing up misconceptions and lack of understanding, as well as teach students how to recognize and mitigate human trafficking.  Such training initiatives can help improve law enforcements’ ability to detect and respond to such activity.

    Columbia Southern University, through a partnership with the Human Trafficking Investigations and Training Institute, offers education for law enforcement professionals to help them combat human trafficking with continuing education. The courses educate students on recognizing human trafficking issues, freeing victims and bringing traffickers to justice.

    Overseeing the program is CSU professor Barry Goodson, a military veteran and former member of the CAC Investigation Task Force, which handles human trafficking cases. The three courses within the program will address human trafficking awareness, the U.S. response to trafficking and a class on law enforcement investigations of human trafficking crimes.

    To learn more, visit, email or call 800-313-1992.

    About Columbia Southern University

    One of the nation’s pioneer online universities, Columbia Southern University was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more.

  • 11 Sep 2017 11:39 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Mark Chamberlain 

    The technological advances of the past 20 years make it instantly possible to know who is in our jail. We need only open our jail management software and start pointing and clicking away. We’ll get a neat, alphabetized list of everyone who is in our custody. If we delve further, we can view an inmate’s current charges, bond amount, housing location and a host of other information. All that being said, do we truly know who we have in custody at a given moment?

    I’m reminded of a situation that took place when I was a young deputy sheriff working in a jail in South Florida. Officials from Puerto Rico paid us a visit one day to pick up an inmate who we had in custody awaiting extradition. The previous year, this same inmate had served eight months of a one-year sentence for a non-violent offense at our minimum-custody facility. The inmate was assigned as a motor pool “trusty.” Five days a week, for eight months, this inmate boarded a bus and rode, unrestrained, with 15 or 20 other inmates, to work in our agency’s motor pool. There he was supervised by the mechanics and other non-sworn staff as he performed minor repairs and oil changes to the agency’s fleet of patrol and specialty vehicles.

    This inmate did his time without any problems, earned his gain time and was released without incident. Months later, he was arrested on an active National Crime Information Center hit out of Puerto Rico for first-degree murder of a Puerto Rican police officer.

    First-degree murder, terrorism

    The murder took place before the inmate began his sentence at our facility. Due to a lengthy investigation and process to obtain the warrant, it wasn’t until after he was out of our custody that the NCIC warrant entry was made. Had we known about this situation, do you think we would’ve given this inmate free rein around police vehicles, deputies, tools, civilian staff members and minimum-custody housing? Of course not. But as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

    Consider a more widely known and more glaring example: Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Just 90 minutes after the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995, McVeigh was arrested and booked for having no tag on his vehicle and for carrying a concealed firearm. He was taken to the Noble County, Oklahoma Courthouse and Jail, which at the time housed a maximum of 19 inmates, where he remained on a $5,000 bond before federal authorities pieced together his involvement in the bombing. There is no way that the deputies who had him in custody knew (or could have known) that he was the most prolific domestic terrorist to date during his short stay at the jail.

    Incomplete criminal history

    We know the current criminal charges an inmate is facing. We know an inmate’s documented criminal history (in the US at least). But have you ever given thought to how many crimes inmates may have committed that didn’t lead to arrest or conviction? The inmates are certainly aware of their record. Other inmates probably know too. Our motor pool trusty certainly knew what he had done and what he was capable of—but we had no clue.

    The point here is that we must be careful about assigning labels (such as trusty) to inmates. We must resist the temptation to let our guard down based upon someone’s custody level, job assignment or even their behavior while incarcerated. In my experience, many murderers and sex offenders are the best-behaved inmates. I’m not saying that everyone should be treated as a maximum-custody inmate, but we do need to have policies and practices in place to help us minimize these risks—e.g., requiring the use of restraints on all inmates during transports, or including sworn or certified staff in supervising inmate work details.

    In corrections, we never truly know who gets booked into or who stays at our facilities. We must remain vigilant and do what we can to ensure that security, housing and classification issues are resolved in our favor.

    About the Author

    Mark Chamberlain served as the first Chief Deputy of Corrections for the Garland County Sheriff’s Office in Hot Springs, Ark., from 2014 to 2016. Prior to his selection, Mark worked for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in West Palm Beach, Fla., for over 26 years, starting off as a Corrections Deputy and retiring as a Captain/Division Commander. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Northwood University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Barry University. He is a graduate of Class #10 of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Senior Leadership Program and holds a correctional certification in Florida and a senior law enforcement certification in Arkansas as well as instructor certifications in both states. Mark joined the Lexipol team as a Training Coordinator in August 2016.

    Lexipol’s Custody Policy Manual and Daily Training Bulletin Service provides essential policies that help reduce risk associated with inmate classification and support efficient, legally sound correctional facility operations. Contact us today to find out more.

  • 10 Sep 2017 6:19 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By James Dundas, Chair of the IPSA Memorial Committee

    Like many firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMT’s, public safety is a family affair. After arriving at the North Tower on 9/11, one of the Chief Officer’s instituted incident command issuing tactical orders to arriving units. His brother, another firefighter, responded on one of the initial engine companies.

    Knowing that rescue was the priority, the Chief Officer ordered companies into the tower to effect rescue of those trapped by the searing fires. His brother, one of the first in, never came out.

    There are stories of heroism, sacrifice and incredible loss in public safety history, and 9/11 was one of the most tragic day’s in our nation’s public safety community. Tragedy does not seem to capture the absolute horror these brave responders experienced on that day of terror.

    A few years later, when I met this Chief Officer and heard his personal story about 9/11, I also got to meet his aide – they shared the same last name, but the two were not related. They seemed inseparable. Sadly though, the aide recently passed away from 9/11 related cancer.

    The number of losses from 9/11 continues to climb due to related illness and exposure to toxins at ground zero. I was fortunate to see him before he passed. He was heroic in his conduct and attitude. He set in place programs and services to assist those suffering from the tower collapses, knowing that he would not be a beneficiary of those services. He is a shining example of the human spirit.

    To him, and to all who rush into harm’s way, we will never forget.

  • 31 Aug 2017 9:06 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Gregory L. Walterhouse, Bowling Green State University, IPSA Member

    In a study of the public’s perception of the fire/rescue service 51 percent of respondents had an excellent perception of the fire service, with 27 percent reporting a good perception and 12 percent a satisfactory perception. This reflects an overall positive perception of the fire service by 90 percent of respondents. Yet, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel are increasingly the subject of violent attacks sometimes resulting in serious injury or death. A recent study by Drexel University found that paramedic’s risk of being violently assaulted is 14 times greater than the firefighters they work alongside.

    Violent attacks against firefighters and EMS personnel are not limited to the United States, as the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service reports a 16 percent increase in violent attacks against on-duty fire fighters in less than two years.

    Assault types, locations vary

    Assaults against first responders include being shot, stabbed, bitten, physically assaulted, being attacked with fireworks and motor vehicle hit-and-run. The following are representative examples of the types of violent assaults being perpetrated against first responders.

    On December 24, 2012, two firefighters were shot to death and two were wounded in an ambush in Webster, New York. More recently shots were fired at a Vallejo fire station and engines in Chicago , Savannah and Youngstown among others have been struck by bullets. Fortunately, there were no injuries in these incidents. Illustrating the hazards associated with Narcan use for overdose reversal a Missouri man attempted to shoot fire and EMS personnel after being administered Narcan.

    In Houston, a Fire Captain was stabbed in the eye by a man he was attempting to rescue from a fire and in San Diego two firefighters were stabbed while giving medical aid to a man. In another incident a firefighter was physically assaulted by a resident he was attempting to remove from a burning house in Logansport, Indiana which contained a drug growing operation.

    Further, a Florida Battalion Chief who was assisting a deputy at the scene of a motor vehicle crash had his arm bitten so severely by the suspect that it required surgery and hospitalization. Firefighters in Dallas responding to a dumpster fire were attacked by individuals shooting fireworks at them. And, a firefighter working a “fill-the-boot” event in Lansing Michigan was killed in an intentional hit-and-run incident.

    These are but a few examples of unprovoked attacks and assaults on firefighter and EMS personnel which have prompted departments and state legislatures to take action.

    Dispatch and PPE

    The first line of defense in protecting first responders is good dispatch information. When dictated by dispatch information, fire and EMS should stage at a safe distance until arrival of law enforcement. The second line of defense is situational awareness. First responders must always be aware of their surroundings and ensure that the scene is safe. First responders must follow their instincts and “street smarts” that only come with training and experience. If the situation does not seem “right” it probably isn’t.

    Due to the increased danger of being shot, the Federal Emergency Management Agency suggests that all firefighters be equipped with ballistic vests when responding to mass shootings and other critical incidents. This is exactly what many departments are doing.

    A few of the departments that have purchased ballistic vests for fire and EMS personnel include: FDNY, Cleveland, Detroit, Fairfield, California, Portsmouth, Ohio, Gwinnett County, Georgia, Pinellas and Orange County in Florida and Orlando which also purchased ballistic helmets in addition to vests. While some departments are equipping apparatus with ballistic vests for critical incidents other departments are issuing ballistic vest directly to personnel to be worn daily.

    The Mt. Pleasant, Michigan Fire Department went a step further. In addition to providing ballistic vests for their firefighters, they have, in cooperation with their Police Department trained firefighters in self-defense tactics including how to avoid confrontation. They have also trained and equipped firefighters with pepper spray which is carried during deployment at special events.  Self-defense training is easily obtainable for all departments through the Firefighter Support Foundation’s free download program Self-Defense for Firefighters and EMTs that consists of a PowerPoint program and video presentation.  

    Other departments are developing rescue task forces and other integrated response programs which coordinate the response of law enforcement, fire and EMS for response to active shooter and other active violence incidents.

    Integrated response however should not be limited to the big incidents and should be used on day-to-day incidents where first responders are subject to potential acts of violence. Effective policies must be in place for any type of multidisciplinary integrated response to be effective.

    The Report of the Joint Police/Fire Task Force on Civil Unrest recommends that “policies and procedures for joint ventures should be developed, approved and accepted by all agencies involved, in order to clearly establish responsibilities and avoid discrepancies and disagreements during the crisis” (USFA, 1994). The report goes on to indicate that the ideal scenario is one where policies are adopted in a joint police/fire preparedness stage and anticipate as many contingencies as possible.

    Legislative action

    State legislatures are also taking action in response to the increased acts of violence that target first responders. Last year the Governor of Kansas signed into law H.B. No. 2502 which permits public employees including firefighters to carry concealed handguns while engaged in official duties. In Texas H.B. No. 982 introduced in January 2017 would permit certain first responders to carry handguns while engaged in the discharge of the first responder duties. The Texas senate recently endorsed a similar bill. A similar bill has been introduced in Michigan. H.B. No. 4842 of 2017 would exempt firefighters and medical first responders from pistol-free zones. Also in Michigan, S.B. No.127 of 2017 would make the commission or attempt to commit a felony against a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service personnel a two year felony to be served consecutively with any other charges. Ohio, H.B. No. 38 of 2017 recently passed by the House and now under consideration by the Senate imposes extra prison time for criminal offenders who assault first responders or members of the military.  

    All first responders perform dangerous work which has become more dangerous due to violent attacks on those that are there to help others. While there is always the potential for injury there are steps that can be taken to lessen the probability of first responders being assaulted and injured.  Though there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to protecting first responders, there are a number of viable options, some that come with little to no cost, from which departments can develop their own custom programs and procedures to protect their most valuable asset.

    About the Author

    Greg Walterhouse is a member of the IPSA and a full-time faculty member in the Fire Administration and Masters in Public Administration programs at Bowling Green State University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from Oakland University, a Master’s degree in Legal Studies from the University of Illinois and a Master’s degree in Management from Central Michigan University. Before joining BGSU he had over 35 years of experience in fire/rescue and emergency management with 18 years in upper management, including Manager of Emergency Services and Chief of the Rochester Hills (MI) Fire Department and Chief of the Mt. Pleasant (MI) Fire Department.

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  • 31 Aug 2017 6:43 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Mr. John Meehan UAS Integration Office, AUS-430, Safety & Operations Branch, FAA

    Mr. John Meehan was one of four panelists during the 2017 IPSA Webinar Week – FAA Considerations for Getting Operational with UAS in Public Safety. Hundreds of public safety professionals attended the event. The IPSA selected the top questions by the audience and Meehan responded.

    Our department wants to get a new UAS program in place. Who do I contact first at the FAA to get started?

    Download the FAA Advisory Circular AC 00-1.1A and review the Statutes (49 USC 40102 and 40125) concerning public aircraft operations (PAO) to help you understand if your entity qualifies to operate as a PAO. Not all public safety entities qualify to operate as a PAO under the Statutes (must be a political subdivision of a State, for example) and some missions will not meet the “governmental functions” listed in the Statutes to be flown as a PAO, and therefore must be flown under the civil rules, Part 107. And then if you have additional questions, we invite public safety entities to reachout to Steve Pansky and/or John Meehan, until there is some basic starter information posted on the FAA website.

    What are the requirements for demonstrating UAS airworthiness?

    107.13 Registration.  A person operating a civil sUAS must comply with the provisions of 91.203(a)(2).  The procedures for registration are on

    107.15 Condition for safe operation applies here. Prior to each flight the RPIC must check the sUAS to determine whether it is in a condition for safe operation.

    107.49(c)(d)(e) Preflight Familiarization, Inspection, and Actions for Aircraft Operation also applies. Again, prior to each flight the RPIC must ensure that all control links between ground control station and the sUA are working properly; ensure that there is enough available power for the sUAS to operate for the intended operational time; and ensure that any object attached or carried by the sUA is secure and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft.

    How much concern should public safety agencies place into security concerns over foreign UAS products and software? And will agencies such as DARPA weigh in on the issue soon? Does the FAA have an official stance?

    The FAA is most concerned about safety of the NAS and people and property on the ground. Security concerns should be determined by each public safety entity in accordance with their own needs and requirements.

    The FAA website had sample COA's that you could look at for best practices. Those appeared to be taken down in May or around that time frame. Is there an opportunity for them to come back?

    COA applications are not cookie cutter exercises as each entity has their own unique circumstances and missions, and some of the information in the COAs is protected. The FAA does not publish the approval of all COAs for public agencies, however for there are some older COAs available that were requested under the FOIA. 

    However, these examples are relatively old and may not be good examples for your use. UAS in the NAS is evolving every day and requirements change as we learn more or modify our processes, knowledge, and expectations from operators, for example.  For Civil Part 107 approvals, the location was renamed and the new locationIf you want to obtain Part 107 waivers, pay close attention to the Safety Waiver Guidelines and answer those requirements carefully and thoughtfully. Remember that the FAA’s mission is the safety of the Airspace (NAS) and those who use it, so keep the safety of the NAS and persons and property on the ground foremost in your mind as you complete the applications. Don’t assume technology by itself will solve the fundamental safety issue.

    Who do I contact to speak about removing DJI geofencing that is hampering our jurisdiction? Name, phone, email please.

    You’ll have to contact the manufacturer or software producer on that issue. 

    Can you go over a few of those UAS use cases for law enforcement and the fire service to help demonstrate the need for a UAS program?

    Use cases are best developed from discussions with your fellow public safety entities who have successfully implemented UAS, and with your leadership and community to determine who, what, when, where, why, and how you will deploy your UAS. We suggest you reach out to trade associations, interest groups, and fellow first responders who have developed those use cases since the applications for UAS are infinite. The FAA does not favor or disfavor any particular use case, as long as they comply with the regulationss and laws and do not compromise safety.

    About the Author

    John is a Management & Program Analyst and Industry Liaison in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Team, located at FAA Headquarters in Washington, DC. In this role, John provides technical support, subject matter expertise, and performs detailed research in response to inquiries from within the agency, other agencies, industry, Congress, and the general public, and coordinates responses with appropriate FAA personnel. John holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate with Instrument rating rotary wing, a Private Pilot Rating with Instrument rating, single engine land airplane, and a UAS Remote Pilot Certificate.

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  • 31 Aug 2017 6:26 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By M.K. Palmore, CISSP, FBI

    Mr. M.K. Palmore was a 2017 IPSA Webinar Week instructor. Hundreds of public safety professionals attended the event How a cyberattack can bring down your department & how to identify, respond, recover. The IPSA selected the top questions by the audience and Palmore responded.

    What is your opinion of the recommended NIST password changes?

    There has been a fair amount of concentration on the development of complex passwords, but not enough emphasis on the ability of two-factor authentication (2FA) to mitigate threats. 2FA is a largely effective counter to the threat actor’s ability to infiltrate systems and is readily available to both consumers and businesses as an effective control measure. I would highly recommend its implementation and use.

    What is Assurance Process Integration?

    Quality assurance is an existing process used in most manufacturing and software development. It is the periodic, but formalized testing that ensures that an end product meets all necessary requirements.  Information security should be a part of the assurance process. While testing functionality, information security should be tested ensuring the completeness of the product or system.

    I heard that dark web healthcare records are often sold for $400 per patient record, is this true?

    Patient records are more valuable than any data currently offered on the dark web. These records last for the life of the victim and sometimes beyond. The value fluctuates, but they are consistently amongst the highest in value and desire to obtain by cybercriminal threat actors.

    Does this happen in other public safety professions (e.g. law enforcement, fire)?

    Any business or entity that has operations utilizing networked environments can fall victim to a cyberattack. It is a common belief in the security business that obscurity is not a defense.

    What are the six areas of the incident response playbook?

    Preparation, Identification, Containment, Eradication, Recovery and Lessons Learned are the six areas generally covered in developing an incident response “playbook.”

    About the Author

    M.K. Palmore, CISSP, is a Senior Federal Law Enforcement Executive and has strong leadership and mentoring skills responsible for cybersecurity, risk management and strategic-vision creation and implementation. His skilled competencies and areas of excellence include Cybersecurity, Enterprise Risk Management, Governance & Compliance, Information Security Program Development, Digital Forensics, InfoSec Incident Response & Management, Physical Security, Executive-Protection, Crisis Response & Management, Business Continuity and Disaster Response Planning.

  • 30 Aug 2017 6:25 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    By Amy Morgan, IPSA Mental Health Committee Member

    Ms. Amy Morgan was a 2017 IPSA Webinar Week instructor. Hundreds of public safety professionals attended the event Why first responders need post incident debriefings. The IPSA selected the top questions by the audience and Morgan responded.

    Q:  Is the level of resiliency one has based on the degree of trauma suffered or the extent to which they had grit and hope throughout the process? In other words, is my ability to bounce back based on how much trauma I suffered or how prepared I am to deal with trauma in the first place?

    A:   I talk about being prepared and strong, so that your resilience is higher -- that is a contributing factor. If you're already strong in your three primary areas of health (mental, emotional, physical), then the trauma will be less likely to “knock you down” than it would be if any or all of those areas is in a weakened state. It's important to get and stay strong in your overall health, so that you are better equipped to manage trauma when it happens.

    It’s not the amount of trauma suffered, but what you've done to help yourself heal from trauma, that matters most. If you experience trauma on a regular basis, let's say once a month, then you have a difficult job. Each time you take the efforts to manage the experience through debriefing, and using resources for healing and recovery, then you will be better equipped (mentally, emotionally, physically) to face the next trauma and the after-effects of the traumas will be lessened for you.

    But someone who experiences these ongoing (cumulative) trauma experiences and does nothing to heal from them, then his or her overall health will be weakened a bit more each time they go through the next trauma experience or event.

    Q:   I work in 911 telecommunications and just listened through a violent act. What are some quick ways that I can decompress before answering the next call?

    A:   You may only have moments after one difficult call before you must answer another one, and if you don't decompress or perform any healing exercises, then you will take all your reactions from one call right into the other, and they will compound. 

    If you have the time and ability, then "debrief" yourself. There is a workbook that I created on debriefing exercises that you should use and write down your own answers if you have no team or group to go through the debriefing with. You should write about your plan to handle this type of call and write about the reality of how you handled it.

    Document the things you did right and well and want to repeat. Then note the things you want to improve on or find ways to grow better at. Then write about your reactions and thoughts on the experience. Write out the things that you may be experiencing later, after your shift or even days or weeks later, because of the experience you just had.

    Option 1: If you have only moments, and you have only yourself (no team debriefings), it’s much better to try to do something rather than nothing. I suggest creating a quick a few sets of note cards, and use a set each time after a call. For each set of eight cards write: 1) Plan; 2) Reality; 3) What went well; 4) Growth area; 5) Reactions; 6) Thoughts; 7) Later to watch for; 8) Resource. Then, while you’re on duty, use one line for each answer and run through the set quickly.

    Option 2: If you have even more time, try writing longer answers or journaling. Identify now resources that you can use later during your off-peak hours. You can take your note cards or journal with you as things to discuss. 

    Option 3: If you only have 30 seconds between calls and don't have time to for option one or two above while you’re on-duty (do those things later though), close your eyes, breathe slowly and think of the positive perspective of how you just helped with the situation; focus on that until your next call. 

    Q:   Do you think it better to discuss what we witness with our spouses or loved ones or is it better to shield them from what we see?

    A:   This isn't really a "one answer fits all" question, but in my opinion, this could actually be very beneficial for a marriage, for a couple to talk about what one is experiencing related to trauma, but I say this with a caveat – it would be beneficial for the couple, together, to use the post-trauma resources and heal together. 

    If you go home after a shift and tell your spouse about all the difficult and horrible things you saw all day, and leave them with that information – remember the descriptors of trauma, then they could then have their own trauma reactions by hearing about the experience and by having a loved one that went through it. 

    It's great to have someone supportive and understanding to share your experience with, but then you've passed a trauma along to them, which I believe is your concern, and so the solution is to share the healing. 

    Sharing the healing process with your spouse could have the same effect it has on the response team. It could make you more cohesive, put you on the same side because you are now sharing the same perspective of the events (and the job), and it could also help both of you find ways to manage your reactions and fears going forward. 

    Building strength and resilience together, and being prepared together for the potential events that may happen, will strengthen your ability to face those things as they come and to share the healing from them when they do.

    Q:   What is the number to the suicide helpline, and is it OK to call it if I’m just feeling depressed.

    A:   The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255 (TALK) and it is available 24/7.  The people who answer this line are well trained to listen, no matter why the caller is calling.

    Not only are they trained to talk someone through their thoughts of suicide and to help and to provide resources and support, but they are also trained to just listen and be a supportive shoulder to lean on while you're going through something difficult. 

    If you've just had an especially bad day and you need someone to share that with, call the number. Their whole purpose and goal is to listen to what you have gone through and help provide whatever support they can. 

    Anyone, of any age, at any time of day, in any occupation, can anonymously call and have someone on the other end of the phone who is ready and willing to hear what you need to talk about.

    About the Author

    Ms. Morgan is an instructional designer, trainer and strategist via Academy Hour, a training provider offering courses to law enforcement, first response teams and business groups. She is pursuing a Doctorate of Education degree with a specialization in curriculum and teaching, has earned a Master's degree in Counseling, and holds a Bachelor's of Science in Behavioral Sciences. She previously served as the Training Officer for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and as an Instructional Systems Designer and Trainer for the Federal Aviation Administration.

    Ms. Morgan writes/publishes therapy resource workbooks & training materials, and serves as a subject matter expert and presenter of leadership & mental health training sessions for the International Public Safety Association. Ms. Morgan also serves as a curriculum developer and instructor of mental health courses for the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training in Oklahoma. She is a certified trainer for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), and is trained as a QPR (Question Persuade Refer) trainer as well as a Crisis Prevention Institute Non-Violent Physical Crisis Intervention trainer. Additionally, she is Oklahoma Supreme Court certified as a civil mediator, and she has achieved Mensa membership status.

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  • 28 Aug 2017 2:05 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

    Goodyear, AZ, August 28, 2017

    Hurricane Harvey is taking a toll on the emergency responders and communities of Texas. The International Public Safety Association’s Executive Director, Heather R. Cotter, emailed its members based in Texas on Sunday, August 27, 2017.

    IPSA members from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, Fire/EMS as well as 911 telecommunications reported back, albeit briefly, that they appreciated the correspondence. One IPSA member, Chief Gary Teeler with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stated that he was working more than 15-hour days in the Special Operations Center since Harvey made landfall. Another IPSA member, with the ATF based in Dallas, indicated that his team was en route to Houston.

    Executive Director Cotter stated that, “The impact, response and recovery efforts are all still unknown, but what we do know is that the emergency responders in Texas are pulling together and working around the clock. There are a lot of unknowns about the integrity of critical infrastructure during this type of flooding and every emergency responder is working selflessly to save as many lives as possible.”

    Hurricane Harvey, classified as a Category 4 hurricane, made landfall on Friday, August 25, 2017. Emergency responders are coming together from around the state, and the country, to provide aid. Response and recovery efforts are still in progress. These efforts will continue for the foreseeable future. Harvey’s total impact and devastation is still unknown, but preliminary reports are indicating that it will take several communities years to rebuild.

    About the International Public Safety Association

    The International Public Safety Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was established in July 2014 in the State of Arizona. Our Mission is to break down the cultural barriers and foster the relationships between EMS, fire, law enforcement, telecommunicators, and emergency responders. Our vision is for a stronger, more integrated public safety community capable of an effective joint response to all public safety incidents.

    Media Contact
    Heather R. Cotter, Executive Director
    Mobile: 703-909-7616

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