Beyond the Beltway: Focusing on Hometown Security

Contact: Doug Gavel
Phone: 617-495-1115
Date: September 03, 2002

CAMBRIDGE, MA - A comprehensive report released today by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government outlines a series of strategic recommendations aimed at enhancing domestic preparedness for terrorism at the state and local levels. "Beyond the Beltway: Focusing on Hometown Security," prepared by participants in the Kennedy School's Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness (ESDP), also calls upon federal officials to place greater emphasis upon local emergency planning efforts as an integral part of the national security strategy. That strategy, the report concludes, must go beyond the formation of a Department of Homeland Security to protect Americans in their hometowns.
The report, to be distributed to local and state policy planners, is predominantly authored by local first responders presently working in the field. Utilizing lessons learned from preparedness efforts in cities and towns throughout the United States, the report is intended to stimulate discussion about and initiate action to address security priorities on the grassroots level.
"One of the lessons from 9/11 is that terrorist organizations can strike anywhere, anytime, and the first responders to the scene play the primary role in assessing and containing the damage, tending to the injured, providing information to the local community, and saving lives," said Juliette Kayyem, executive director of the ESDP and former member of the National Commission on Terrorism. "While the creation of a federal department of homeland security continues in Washington, we simply cannot afford to overlook the financial and other critical support local and state planners need to prepare for a major emergency in their own backyards."
Rebecca F. Denlinger, chief of the Cobb County, Georgia fire department and a member of the ESDP, said the report will be a vital guide for state and local governments. "The Atlanta metropolitan area, like all major metroplexes, must remain vigilant at all times against the threat of terrorism. We must be proactive as well as reactive to that threat. This report provides us with guidance for taking action to protect the people in our communities."
Among the report's primary recommendations:
· Design plans to identify and protect critical infrastructure in communities throughout the country which might be a target for terrorists.
· Utilize mock emergency exercises to prepare police, fire, EMS, and other local government agencies to respond to a variety of scenarios.
· Develop a synchronized system for accurately tabulating the number of first respondent workers who serve "on-call" for several different units, in order to maintain sufficient personnel in the event of an emergency.
· Quicken the pace of rebuilding and modernizing the public health infrastructure in states and cities across the country.
· Engage the private sector as a partner in the effort to protect life and ensure security.
· Strengthen state and local resources to deal with mental health needs of victims of large-scale disasters or attacks.
· Promote the use of local National Guard forces for homeland security against major acts of terrorism.
· Begin intensive discussions with local media outlets with the goal of educating the public about potential threats and possible future attacks.
The Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness ( is a standing task force of leading practitioners and academic specialists concerned with terrorism and emergency management. Supported by the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and the U.S. Department of Justice, the ESDP brings together experts with operational experience in diverse professional fields related to domestic preparedness. Members include professionals with backgrounds in emergency management, law enforcement, fire protection, public health, emergency medicine, national security and defense, and elected office.
Formed in 1999, the ESDP has met six times, most recently in June 2002. Arnold Howitt, executive director of the Kennedy School's Taubman Center for State and Local Government, serves as ESDP director. Juliette Kayyem serves as ESDP executive director. From 1999-2001, she was a member of the National Commission on Terrorism.
The ESDP's report will be made available through the ESDP web site:


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