An overview of public safety in today’s world

Due to human activities and natural forces, disaster is inevitable. There are often headlines about people succumbing to fires, droughts, floods, storms, and many other forces. Since disasters can strike at any time, there must be measures to mitigate the effects because it is impossible to eliminate them completely, which explains the need for public safety policies. If you are passionate about serving your community daily, you could pursue a career in public safety.

It is important to understand what exactly public safety encompasses. This aspect involves various mitigation programs to safeguard people against disasters, crimes and other potential threats. As the name indicates, it is about protecting the public. In several jurisdictions, including throughout the United States, public safety is the sole responsibility of the government, although some local institutions and non-governmental organizations may also offer services as subsidiaries.

Stakeholders in this cause include parole officers, fire departments, emergency response teams, police, and other security agencies. Despite each official’s unique nature of work, the primary goal is to protect communities and organizations against danger.

Countering crime

Federal and provincial or state governments are responsible for countering crime in pursuit of public safety. They must implement programs and coordinate efforts related to the rehabilitation of offenders, law enforcement and crime prevention. The objective is to minimize crime levels through collaborations with territorial, provincial or state, and federal partners. These engagements provide specific solutions for communities and regions. Many partnerships are geared toward providing support, education regarding certain behavior and tools to deter and prevent crime.

Public safety organizations also generate policies and laws that govern the criminal justice system. They provide data and referrals related to federal corrections and how criminal offenders can be released conditionally. The organizations also provide research expertise to implement innovative approaches that boost public safety. Organized crime is on the rise, and public safety agencies have stepped up to resolve the situation. Among the strategies is coordination and policy development by territorial partners. Organized crime includes terrorism, which calls for efforts from international communities.

  • Money laundering

Money laundering is another global menace affecting communities’ quality of life and safety. It is a way through which individuals disguise the source of money and assets gained by dubious means. When criminals receive this money, they support other illegal activities such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, fraud and corruption.

Money laundering poses serious economic challenges because it destabilizes the global financial system. As this problem is growing rapidly and becoming more complex by the day, governments are funding anti-money laundering authorities. Other areas of investment include the modernization of anti-money laundering laws, empowering law enforcers with the skills and tools to enhance investigations and building international cooperation for information sharing purposes.

  • Drug abuse

Drug abuse and drug trafficking are also elements of crime causing massive harm. Young people are succumbing to addiction, while drivers are causing accidents due to impaired judgment. The illegal drug market has also led to gun violence, among other problems. Some patients have suffered an overdose in healthcare centers, leading to death or irreversible medical conditions. The role of governments is to counter the supply of illegal substances and reduce their problematic use and subsequent harms. First, drug use must be regarded as a health issue while balancing public safety priorities. 

Through information sharing, governments can inhibit illegal drug production, importation and distribution. Law enforcement officers and public health officials must be alert in order to control the spread of illegal drugs. The criminal justice system is also critical in combating the supply of illicit drugs. Courts must apply heavy penalties, including huge fines and long sentences to deter other criminals from engaging in illegal practices.

  • Cybercrime

The internet is a phenomenal development of technological advancement, but it has a fair share of disadvantages. Most prominently, it has provided a platform for cybercriminals to perpetuate online child sexual exploitation, which is now a gross public safety issue. It continues to harm generations of children globally. This crime is committed in various forms. 

First is child pornography, where child sexual abuse materials are distributed. These include real and fictitious depictions of child sexual abuse content in image, video and audio formats. Child sexual exploitation on the internet also happens when youths generate explicit images and videos and distribute them without consent. Streaming live child sexual abuse content is also regarded as a crime. 

Despite the widespread nature of online child sexual abuse, stakeholders have developed measures to enhance public safety. Governments have put in place agencies with the aim of child protection against sexual exploitation. The first strategy is to increase awareness of the risks to children and youth. Teachers, parents and health professionals should be informed about prevention measures and how they can support initiatives and reduce the stigma around sexual exploitation. 

Secondly, security agencies and the criminal justice system must collaborate to identify, apprehend and prosecute offenders. It is through these efforts that the distribution networks will be broken. Victims and survivors should be protected against further abuse by identifying them, removing their images from public platforms and offering counseling services.

Emergency management

Public safety programs are important in helping individuals safeguard their lives and property against all types of hazards. Emergencies can be caused by technological, human-induced or natural forces. A range of programs, plans and policies can help to mitigate such emergencies.

Emergency management efforts today are designed to prevent and reduce the impact of hazards. Stakeholders minimize the financial costs of response and recovery by mitigating and preventing these emergencies. Communities and response agencies have adopted a risk-based and all-hazards approach to bolster mitigation efforts.

When an emergency strikes, its impact may extend to territorial neighbors and economic partners. For this reason, nations work hand in hand to strengthen their disaster preparedness. They plan together, support training initiatives and share data acquired from various events and lessons. Countries can carry out joint drills to establish possible hazards and the best ways to deal with them. They will also learn about their deficiencies and how to support one another in equipping their disaster response units.

  • Handling emergencies at ground-level

The first tier at which emergencies are managed is the local level. Stakeholders here include municipalities, police, fire departments and medical professionals in hospitals. If authorities at this level are overwhelmed, they can call for reinforcement from territorial or provincial governments. In jurisdictions such as the United States, state governments can ask for help from the federal level if the hazard is extensive. In most cases, natural disasters such as tornados, floods and storms call for federal intervention.

  • Formation of emergency departments

Every country has an emergency response system that coordinates disaster management efforts. Federal departments have established operations centers where professionals are hired and placed in leadership roles to spearhead emergency response programs. Federal emergency departments coordinate events affecting national interest and unite partners to pursue a common interest for a collective objective. Operation centers must function around the clock to anticipate risks, analyze probabilities and implement logistical measures to handle disasters.

  • Recovery from disaster

Recovery from disasters is another critical element of public safety. Unfortunately, the measures undertaken here come long after the disaster has already taken place. Recovery efforts are meant to salvage property and lives to minimize the overall effect. Again, governments support emergency response teams in their recovery efforts through financial assistance, especially when the consequences are too tragic for local authorities to manage.

Steps to emergency management

There are five steps to emergency management, as listed below:

Step 1: Prevention

This is the first step, which entails taking action to avoid an emergency. It may include surveillance and deterrence operations, among other measures.

Step 2: Mitigation

Mitigation measures employ strategies that reduce the possibility of an emergency happening. It is also a method of minimizing the damaging effects of emergencies. Examples of mitigation measures include the construction of barriers, installing shutters and developing building zoning requirements.

Step 3: Preparedness

Communities are often involved in activities that build their capacity to respond in the event a disaster strikes. Preparedness actions include education campaigns against hazards, conducting disaster preparedness drills and tests, training response personnel and engaging in mutual aid agreements.

Step 4: Response

This step involves actions that are taken before, during or after a disaster has taken place. Response measures are designed to eliminate suffering, minimize losses and save lives. Actions in the response phase include search and rescue, firefighting, medical care, evacuation and more.

Step 5: Recovery

Following the event of a disaster, the recovery process takes shape to bring the community back to normal or near-normal conditions. Emergency teams work to repair all forms of damage to restore basic services. Recovery measures may include care for displaced populations, reconstruction of roads and financial aid. In extreme cases, psychosocial counseling is an important measure to restore mental wellness to the affected population.

National security

Governments worldwide are responsible for protecting their citizens within and outside their borders. Individuals living in foreign countries must enjoy the security offered by their governments. Public safety organizations spearhead this effort through coordination so that federal and state departments can protect individual interests, including lives and property. 

National security is a broad aspect that calls for collaboration from different programs and initiatives. Public safety organizations are at the center for coordination in the war against transport insecurity, cybercrime, vandalism of infrastructure and terrorism. This sector also works with citizens to involve them in national security issues that benefit communities.

  • Terrorism

Terrorism is a major threat to world communities and is considered the biggest risk to national security. It is a form of organized crime that extremist groups fund to destabilize the world order so that they can thrive. The US has suffered massive infringement on its national security, with the September 11th incident featuring among the top terrorist events in the country. Since that period, the country has invested in comprehensive anti-terror technology and recruited sufficient personnel to deal with the menace. In addition to the US, most countries worldwide have a robust strategy to detect, prevent, deny and respond to terror threats.

When a country faces terror threats, one of the quickest responses is to inform the public through the media or reports about targeted hotspots. People can then avoid such areas or stay away from huge gatherings. Intelligence and security agencies have a collective mandate to address terror threats. Fortunately, public safety GIS helps to monitor movements and interpret geographic data – students can learn about this system through Wilfrid Laurier University’s Online Master of Public Safety. It enables security agencies to map various locations and identify vulnerabilities that may lead to attacks by terrorists. The GIS facilitates quick responses by enabling security forces to gather and share information; so it is an upgrade over traditional systems of fighting terrorism.

  • Extremist travelers

Another global threat linked to terrorism is extremist travelers. This is a group of people traveling to foreign countries to take part in extremist activities which are primarily aimed at supporting terrorism. Such activities may include media production, recruitment, radicalization and financing of terror groups. In the US, criminals found to be perpetuating these actions are punished by law. Extremist travelers pose a serious challenge to countries and their allies. 

Efforts to deal with this issue include criminal prosecution for returning extremist travelers. They can be arrested and sentenced if sufficient evidence is gathered against such individuals. Other mitigation tools are threat reduction measures and air travel bans to prevent such individuals from flying or revoking their passports. Governments can also sanction a terrorism peace bond against extremist travelers by requesting a court to place conditions on them. For instance, such an individual can be placed under physical or electronic monitoring.

The criminal justice system provides legal redress for victims who have suffered from acts of terrorism and extremist risks. The United States and Canada have an elaborate terrorism act of law that empowers terrorism victims to pursue justice against perpetrators. If you are affected, the law allows you to sue another state. This act supports nations’ anti-terror efforts and aims to express a country’s resolve to fight this vice.

  • Violence

Violence is another threat to national security. Unlike terrorism, which comes from external forces, violence is an internal affair. The most prevalent form is gun violence, where gun holders execute innocent people in unclear circumstances. Violence can stem from the effects of drugs or political reasons where supporters of a particular faction enact violence on individuals on the opposing side. The clamor for resources such as minerals and land can lead to violence. Government agencies responsible for preventing violence are working to reduce radicalization. Measures in place include research and support for community outreach programs.