Enlist the Help of Emergency Managers to Overcome Turf Battles

Local emergency managers can help everyone in public safety play nicely in the same sandbox.

One challenge faced by many campus safety practitioners involves turf battles – people and organizations who do not play well with others. Most problematic when it takes place at leadership levels, overly protective stances by public safety personnel, community partner organizations and educators can create severe strain and can result in deadly gaps in efforts to try to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from campus crisis incidents.

While resource allocation for campus organizations and their public safety partner agencies is typically much strained in recent years, available protective resources are often much greater for American campuses than what I have seen in many of the other developed countries I have worked in. And just like countries with national educational systems and national law enforcement agencies, some folks can be pretty protective of their agencies resources and missions.

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Many university police chiefs, school security directors, municipal police executives, sheriffs and other leaders have expressed frustration with local organizational leaders who do not appear to be team players. While these can be among the most challenging situations to resolve, there are success strategies that can help.

For example, one valuable resource in these instances can be the local or state emergency manager. Because they must routinely operate with and serve as a liaison between numerous public safety and community organizations like K12 schools and universities, emergency managers often serve to help connect and improve relations between entities. In addition, emergency managers typically do not have a great deal of legal authority in contrast to a police chief, sheriff or fire chief. By necessity, emergency managers have to learn to persuade rather than to direct people and organizations to act.

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While not always an effective solution, I have seen numerous instances where emergency managers have been able to help bring people together for the good of those who depend on them for protection. Consider your local and state emergency managers as a potential ally in your efforts to build a spirit of true campus safety collaboration.

Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at [email protected]. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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