June 12, 2019

Download the recommendations.
Ten Keys to Improving Emergency Alerts, Warnings & Notifications
In April 2019, SAFECOM and the  National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security's  Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, developed the  Ten Keys to Improving Emergency Alerts, Warnings, and Notifications (PDF) as recommendations to help organizations enhance critical information sharing. This is inclusive of information on emergency alerts, warnings, and notification (AWN) systems that help protect lives and property by identifying information about an impending threat, communicating that information to those who need it, and facilitating the timely taking of protective actions. The  Ten Keys are recommended for integration into the existing structures of all alert originators, such as campus public safety and police departments, partners, and stakeholders and include:
  1. Establish Governance: Establish strong governance and collaborate with existing authorities to create communication pathways to facilitate timely and efficient information sharing.
  2. Identify and Coordinate with Others: Partner and coordinate with existing alert originators, emergency managers, organizations within a jurisdiction and neighboring jurisdictions, public safety communications centers and answering points, public information officers, critical infrastructure sectors, community members and organizations, and communications providers.
  3. Develop Plans, Policies, and Procedures: Identify, establish, document, field-test, and continually evaluate plans, policies, and procedures against the evolving AWN landscape.
  4. Account for Diverse Populations: Ensure whole community inclusion, as diversity and accessibility influence the ways in which people receive, interpret, and respond to messages. Understanding how messages reach these various demographics and using a variety of communications pathways is necessary for ensuring AWN effectiveness.
  5. Maintain Security and Resiliency: Ensure cybersecurity across networks, devices, systems, and user interfaces. Secure infrastructure and foster resiliency as manmade and natural disasters can impact AWN issuances if not properly mitigated.
  6. Incorporate Safeguards: Incorporate internal safeguards across the entire AWN lifecycle- human and machine-to protect against system misuse and prevent false messaging.
  7. Train, Exercise, and Test Systems: Conduct trainings, exercises, and tests of AWN systems with stakeholders and partners on a regular basis to maintain proficiencies; lessons observed from these activities should be evaluated, documented, and incorporated into future operations.
  8. Eliminate Issuance and Dissemination Delays: Eliminate issuance and dissemination delays by creating message templates, expediting information sharing, identifying and establishing triggers, and avoiding ad-hoc decision making.
  9. Deliver Actionable Messaging: Provide comprehensive, targeted, and specific messaging. Remain mindful of creating alert fatigue, but err on the side of public safety when dealing with conflicting or uncertain information.
  10. Monitor and Correct Misinformation: Monitor for changes in the situation and inaccurate spreading of information, and correct inaccurate or false messaging accordingly.
Clery Center Executive Director  Jessica Mertz stated, " the Ten Keys highlight critical practices for effectively implementing timely warning and emergency notification requirements under the Clery Act. For example, emergency notification policy must specify who is responsible for specific steps, including confirming an emergency, determining who receives a notification and the content, and initiating the system. T he annual tests required by Clery allow an institution to ensure they're coordinating with on- and off-campus partners prior to an actual emergency and help flag potential concerns. The Ten Keys would be a great resource for a Clery coordinator or team to identify action steps, such as examining message inclusivity or creating or updating templates."
The  Ten Keys document does not outline specific AWN system design, maintenance, or operating procedures, but does highlight information from the AWN community on how to enhance critical information sharing through accurate, timely, secure and inclusive messaging. References to other publications, proper roles and responsibilities, community partnerships, accessibility, and testing are also discussed.
For additional information about this document or AWN best practices, please email SAFECOM or NCSWIC.

Download the framework.
P olice-Mental Health Collaborations: Six Questions to Ask
Police officers are increasingly asked to respond to calls for service involving people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or other mental health need. They may be the first, and only, responder on the scene of a situation that can be more complex and time-consuming than many officers are trained to address. Police departments are increasingly reaching out to those in the behavioral health system, a promising trend and one that has historically highlighted the pervasive gap in mental health services. This is particularly true across college and university campuses where the exponential growth of students suffering from anxiety and depression continues to grow and outpaces clinical services and counseling staff available (see Student Anxiety Continues to Rise Part 1 and Part 2).
The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, with support from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, recently released a framework to help law enforcement agencies respond to this challenge. In Police-Mental Health Collaborations: A Framework for Implementing Effective Law Enforcement Responses for People Who Have Mental Health Needs (PDF), the CSG Justice Center discusses how many law enforcement agencies and behavioral health groups have begun taking a proactive approach to improving responses to people with mental health needs. These efforts include improving practices such as providing mental health training to law enforcement workforces and incorporating mental health, crisis intervention, and stabilization training as part of some states' law enforcement training standards. These efforts have led to an understanding that "even the most effective law enforcement responses cannot succeed without mental health services that provide immediate crisis stabilization, follow up, and longer-term support."
To address this issue, some law enforcement agencies have committed to comprehensive, agency-wide approaches and partnerships with the behavioral health system. These integrated, cross-system approaches are known as police-mental health collaborations (PMHCs). Whether an agency is seeking to establish a new PMHC or improve an existing one, six important questions must be asked to make sure four key outcomes can be achieved: increase connections to resources; reduce repeat encounters with law enforcement; minimize arrests; and reduce use of force in encounters with people who have mental health needs:
  1. Is our leadership committed?
  2. Do we have clear policies and procedures to respond to people who have mental health needs?
  3. Do we provide staff with quality mental health and stabilization training?
  4. Does the community have a full array of mental health services and supports for people who have mental health needs?
  5. Do we collect and analyze data to measure the PMHC against the four key outcomes?
  6. Do we have a formal and ongoing process for reviewing and improving performance? 
The framework walks through each question explaining why it matters, what the proper answer looks like in practice, and provides a brief example from the field.
For additional information about PMHCs and the different PMHC response models, visit the Police Mental Health Collaboration Toolkit website.

Professional Development Opportunities

Title: Comprehensive Jeanne Clery Act Training
Organization: Clery Center
Dates: August 6-8, 2019
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Fee: Registration fee
Title: Policing Vulnerable Populations: Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Programs
Organization: Justice Clearinghouse
Date: August 8, 2019 at 3:00PM ET
Location: Online
Fee: Free
Title: L0363 Multi-Hazard Emergency Management for Higher Education
Organization: University of Nebraska Medical Center
Dates: September 17-19, 2019
Location: Omaha, NE
Fee: Free

For additional trainings and events, access our searchable online calendar

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This project was supported by Grant No. 2013-MU-BX-K011 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.
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