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Whats is the NIMS system and why is important to community policing?

NIMS is a recent act put into law after the 9/11 attack. This is a very brief and very hastily written paper that kind of explains what it is.

Emergency situations can happen to any community at any time; this is why it is important to have a plan. After the attacks on September 11 2001 it became clear to the government that steps needed to be taken to help prevent, and respond to incidents through improved coordination of resources; NIMS was the way to do this. NIMS (National Incident Management System)  required the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate with other federal agencies, along with state local and tribal agencies to help prepare for emergency incidents.  NIMS primary purpose is to provide all agencies involved in incident response to work together to help prevent, respond to, recover from any and all incidents regardless of size location or complexity  with the overall goal to protect against loss of life and property.

                NIMS is more than just written guidelines for how to respond to emergencies. Rather it is a system that requires much involvement from the top of the organizational chart, all the way to the bottom.  It requires a high level of preparedness; which includes high levels of training, planning, and making sure you have the right equipment readily available. It also gives requirements for agencies in communication, stating that “emergency management and incident response activities rely on communications and information systems” . This ensures that all agencies across the board have no errors in describing the incident and that everyone involved understands what is being said. Another major part of NIMS is the resource management. NIMS sets acceptable requirements for different kinds of incidents so as to not leave an incident shorthanded or flooded with resources.  All the features together form NIMS, not having one would leave the system flawed and not practical. But why is NIMS practical on a community policing level?

                NIMS is a nationwide system that ensures proper and swift response to incidents, but it has an impact on even smaller communities and the incidents they face.  Smaller communities benefit the most from the NIMS system. When emergencies occur inside of their city limits often times they are not equipped well enough to handle it. NIMS will provide the resources necessary to assist from multi car accidents on highways that might run through a town, or when a smaller farm town gets struck by a flash flood. This is not to say that bigger organizations don’t benefit from NIMS. Larger cities will also get aid in assisting in matters of homeland security. The NIMS system often allows for resources to be placed in larger cities as the infrastructure is generally more adapted for quick deployment.   

                With the added responsibility of policing terrorism since 9/11, police departments have needed additional training and resources. NIMS has taken on that need and addressed it. Most terrorism and drug bust are not done by a local police agency, they are teams of different agencies working together to stop the problem before it gets to be a larger issue. A lot of the money given to local departments by NIMS is in the form of grants, often these grants are used to help strengthen the community relationship with the police. For example; July 2007 the state of Ohio received 75.6 million dollars in grants from the Department of Homeland Security. Of this money over $15 million went to an urban areas security initiative, $441,000 went to training for the Citizens Training Corps.[i]

                Since the introduction of NIMS communities have trained better, communicated clearer and have overall been better prepared for any kind of incident. Through the continued cooperation of all the agencies involved NIMS has been a very successful program and will continue to do so.

[i] Marion, Nancy “Law Enforcement Response to Homeland Security Initiatives: The case of Ohio” p. 10

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