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Police Departments

  • By: J. James Bono
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

The routine, primary responsibilities of police departments and other law enforcement agencies are to protect lives and property, maintain public order, and enforce the law in the communities they patrol. In times of disaster, the role played by police departments flows from these charges. The modern police department can serve in a range of capacities beyond law enforcement, and expanded policing functions characteristic of large, modern departments have made them key participants in emergency management activities.

Disasters, like any other events that have a significant impact on communities, have their own mythology—a set of community-held beliefs that, while false, drive a number of perceptions and behaviors. One of the most enduring disaster myths is that of rampant lawlessness in the immediate aftermath of an event such ...

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