Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Preparing for Protests, Unrest, and Acts of Violence Ahead of the Midterm Elections

The United States (US) has been experiencing tense and tumultuous times over the last few years that have taken many communities by surprise. In recent years, seemingly civil demonstration has led to the destruction of property or acts of violence disrupting the safety of the public on the streets of their own communities.

UnSplash: Colin Lloyd

With midterm elections right around the corner, local and state public safety, emergency management, and homeland security organizations must prepare for the increased risk of potential civic unrest. Regardless of who wins, there is a chance that election results may spur protests that further fuel demonstrations, unrest, and even acts of violence.

Given this reality, how does the public safety community prepare?

Preparing for the November Election

With just over 200 days left until the 2022 midterm elections, time is of the essence for pre-planning. Three activities that any community or urban area may want to consider within its public safety, emergency management, and homeland security community include the following:

Form an integrated working group to pre-plan. One of the best and first steps of preparedness is to know who you will be working with before a critical incident occurs. The next step is to collaborate with one another to ensure that if a critical incident does occur, pertinent stakeholders know how they will integrate with one another to provide an effective response. Integrated working groups, like the one described, can follow in the footsteps of working groups for pre-planned mass events such as festivals and sporting events.

Integrate the Intelligence and Investigations Section into Incident Command. The Intelligence and Investigations (I/I) Section of the Incident Command System (ICS) is the most recent functional structure added to the decades-old organization for managing an incident. Within this Section, personnel assigned prioritize sharing information, analyzing threats, and coordinating any needs to investigate threats (in a pre-planned or no-notice incident).

ICS has demonstrated its value in maintaining organization and structure in critical incidents. The I/I Section provides ICS with guidance on how intelligence collection, information sharing, and investigative operations can be integrated into response activities. As the I/I Section is new to the ICS functional family, many communities have yet to introduce this Section into their standard operating procedures; however, as communities prepare for potential incidents around a major pre-planned event, this may present opportunities for that introduction.

Design exercises to validate existing plans, policies, procedures, and partnerships, and explore areas of growth and strengthening. While time is limited, there is still plenty of it to design, facilitate, and evaluate an exercise that can assist your community in being better prepared for any critical incidents that may occur. Whether it is a discussion-based exercise or a more robust Hunter Seeker-style exercise, it is important to act now to provide your exercise stakeholders enough time to follow up on any opportunities for improvement.

Hagerty can help

When working to prepare your community for threats you may face, ask yourself if your public safety, emergency management, and homeland security organizations are prepared. While recent events of disorder, protests, and acts of violence may have informed your community’s response, there is never a wrong time to strengthen preparedness.

Hunter Seeker: An Active Threat Exercise

Hagerty’s Security and Threat Management Team understands the challenges communities face and is ready to help. Hagerty has subject matter experts who can support assessment, planning, training, and exercise. Innovative exercises like Hunter Seeker allow intelligence analysts and investigators to participate in the exploration of the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) (this links up to the 2021 National Priorities in Preparedness).

Hagerty is here to help your community be prepared for any incident you may face.

David Schuld is a Deputy Director of Preparedness and the Head of the Hunter Seeker Program, a comprehensive program of Hagerty Consulting that is focused on strengthening capabilities prior to a critical incident taking place. David joined Hagerty Consulting in 2014 and has become a leading subject matter expert of best practices in security and threat management issues.