NLC Committee Focuses on Connection Between Public Safety, Health Services

October 1, 2012

By Mitchel Herckis

NLC's Public Safety and Crime Prevention Steering Committee met in Brea, CA, this past week, and left the meeting with proposals for new National Municipal Policy (NMP) on a host of issues, including Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and mental health's impact on public safety.

As a result of the meeting, the PSCP steering committee will present a range of new policies regarding the interplay between health and public safety at the Congress of Cities in Boston, November 28 - December 1.  Vice Mayor Scott Somers of Mesa, AZ, a PSCP steering committee member who also serves on the National EMS Advisory Council, led the committee discussion on EMS services in conjunction with PSCP Committee Chair Ken Massey, councilmember, Farmington Hills, MI. Massey stated, "The committee was able to cover a lot of ground at this meeting. I am particularly proud of the fact that we were able to craft comprehensive policy on the intergovernmental relationship on EMS issues, something that NLC has not had to date."

The steering committee also proposed new policy language on other health related issues, including a new section regarding Mental Health and Public Safety that expresses municipal concerns about mentally ill individuals' relationship with the criminal justice system, and also discusses the need for better coordination and supportive mental health resources after major criminal incidents and emergencies.

In addition, the PSCP Steering committee generated new language on the coordination of state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, which track pharmaceutical prescriptions to help law enforcement fight prescription drug abuse. The steering committee also reviewed a resolution submitted by the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO) urging the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to look into the national pandemic of black-on-black homicides. The PSCP steering committee plans to collaborate with the Human Development steering committee on the resolution prior to the Congress of Cities.

Beyond health and public safety, the committee discussed the implementation of the nationwide public safety broadband network that Congress authorized the creation of earlier this year, and created a new resolution regarding its construction, operation, and governance. The steering committee also drafted NMP language on the use of DNA and other biometric evidence in law enforcement, and updated its resolution on human trafficking and its impact on municipalities.

To complement and inform its policy work, the steering committee received presentations from key experts at the federal level. Richard Patrick, Acting Director for the Workforce Health and Medical Support Division at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), discussed the federal government's work in the area of medical first responders, including current DHS initiatives related to health during catastrophic events. René Hanna, a Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, discussed new synthetic drugs' that are becoming prevalent across the nation and recent successes in national efforts to crack down on prescription drug abuse.

City of Brea Councilmember Marty Simonoff hosted the committee at the Brea Civic and Cultural Center. The meeting was led by PSCP Chair Massey, along with Vice Chairs Pete Constant, councilmember, San Jose, CA, and Isaac ‘Ike' Robinson, commissioner, West Palm Beach, FL.