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Pandemic prep for law inforcement

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    Pandemic Prep
    H1N1 concerns may have subsided, but the next outbreak may lie just around the corner ... and law enforcement needs to be prepared

    From the August 2010 Issue

    Ronnie Garrett By Ronnie Garrett

    A monkey smuggled into the United States carries a deadly secret -- a fatal disease that kills within 24 hours and can be passed from animal to human. Within the span of a few days, this monkey infects and kills hundreds and the disease spreads faster than Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) epidemiologists can find a means to treat it. Widespread public hysteria ensues as officials try to quarantine infected individuals and isolate the outbreak to the communities where it has spread.

    While this scenario is actually ripped from the 1995 movie "Outbreak," it raises some very real concerns about law enforcement's role in public health emergencies.

    In the aftermath of H1N1, the swine flu outbreak that fortunately never became as bad as predicted, some officials worry the onus to plan for pandemic may recede. But this could be a mistake. As Inspector Alain Bernard of the Ottowa Police Service emphasizes, "It is not a question of if [a pandemic will occur], it's a question of when." Supporting this is the fact that there were three major flu pandemics in the last century, the least of which caused 34,000 deaths in the United States alone.

    Clearly preparation is needed. But what should this planning include? Isn't all-hazards planning enough?

    The simple answer is no. While elements of existing hazard plans may provide guidance, a business continuity plan that addresses a pandemic's specific concerns is also necessary...