The Department of Criminal Justice Training, a nationally recognized leader in law enforcement training, is taking on an innovative new leadership role in the homeland security effort with its Kentucky Community Preparedness Program. This unique program focuses on prevention of hostile acts and crime in small and medium-sized communities through a system of risk assessments and recommendations for improved security.
“The chiefs and sheriffs in this state wanted a mechanism to make their communities safer from all threats, and that is exactly what this program provides,” said DOCJT Commissioner John W. Bizzack. “It finds out where a community's weak links are and it offers a method, and in some instances funding, to make them stronger. A single criminal could create a catastrophic event for a community if he attacks the right target, and this program's goal is to make sure that never happens. It brings all areas of local government together to make the community as strong and well protected as possible”
The Kentucky Office of Homeland Security approved a $2,429,533 grant, which will allow DOCJT to implement the program in 60 small and medium-sized communities throughout the state during the next 12-month period. The start date of the program will depend on the finalization of the grant agreement.
“The Kentucky Community Preparedness Program’s preventative approach and statewide scope is really what sets it apart from others,” said Erwin Roberts, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. “Often people ask for money to help in the event of an attack, and while those tools are completely necessary, we feel like preventing an attack before it happens is a key component of our statewide strategy.”
Approving the grant is another example of the Fletcher Administration’s commitment to protecting Kentucky communities from threats of all types.
“My administration is looking at homeland security in a whole new way, and programs like this will help us ensure we provide safer communities for every Kentuckian,” Governor Ernie Fletcher said. “As far as we can determine, the Kentucky Community Preparedness Program is the first of its kind in the nation because of its focus on small and medium-sized communities. The program prioritizes prevention, rather than just response, and provides an ongoing capability for communities to identify and correct local vulnerabilities to crime or hostile acts.”
Assessment teams, trained in the Sandia National Laboratories’ Risk Assessment Methodology for Communities (RAM-C), will make weeklong visits to participating communities. Working closely with local law enforcement and community leaders, the teams will conduct vulnerability assessment to identify a community’s weaknesses using a detailed and systematic analysis of facilities, structures and security policies and their relationship to each other. By looking at a community as a whole instead of just looking at individual components, local officials will be able to allocate resources and funds to the areas where they are most needed.
Cities that complete the assessment and comply with established uniform standards will be certified as a Prepared Kentucky Community. The grant also includes $600,000 in funds earmarked to reimburse Prepared Kentucky Communities, for an average of $10,000 per community, for some of the recommended improvements that they make.
DOCJT has partnered with several statewide associations – the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, the Kentucky Sheriffs’ Association and the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center at the University of Louisville – in the program. DOCJT will seek input from the partners when selecting the 60 communities.
“By partnering with so many statewide associations, DOCJT is ensuring that every facet of local government is included in this process, and that is what is going to make this program successful,” said Sylvia Lovely, the executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities. “Once this program is completed, I feel confident that Kentucky will be a model for the nation in effective homeland security planning and outreach.”
“We are pleased to partner with the Department of Criminal Justice Training in this much needed prevention effort that we know will make our communities safer,” said Bob Arnold, the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Counties.
DOCJT developed the Kentucky Community Preparedness Program in 2003 to mobilize local law enforcement and community officials in a formalized process of identifying and correcting security vulnerabilities that might be exploited by terrorists or criminals. Assessments were conducted in seven pilot cities, which concluded with strong support from everyone involved.