Coordinated Community Response – Terrorism, Hate Crimes

In a previous paper, I describe a coordinated community response to individual crime; however, when considering terrorism and, to some degree, hate crimes, we need to understand the more comprehensive needs of effected communities more so than the individual, yet, we still need to address individual needs (Schadone, 2011). According to a U.S. Department of Justice (2000) report on responding to victim needs after a terror event, comprehensive victim assistance centers should be centralized for ease of identification and resource management. This report acknowledges victims, family, and responders as potential users of victim assistance resources.

Coordinated community response programs should also be comprehensive and modular in order to provide services during normal day-to-day operations and to be able to coordinate for larger undertakings, such as those in the wake of large-scale emergencies. The U.S. Department of Justice (2000) report recommends being mindful of victim rights and including victim services representatives in planning, ensuring timely death notifications to family of the deceased, creating centralized centers to provide information, crisis counseling, and privacy, planning for transitioning short-term mental health counseling to long-term mental health care, streamlining victim compensation programs, organizing committees to ensure that unmet needs are identified with provisions of responding to these needs are created, creating an emergency fund for immediate payment for resources or victim compensation when other directed funds are inadequate or delayed, and creating processes for recruiting and preparing volunteers to assist in response efforts.

According to Roberts and Yeager (2009), crisis intervention counselors should take some specific steps in counseling individual victims of large-scale events. Initially, triage and remove victims from the scene as soon as possible to limit exposure to the aftermath of the event, considering the breadth of possible injuries and always taking into account the potential for responders’ needs following their exposure. Next, victims should be assessed medically to ensure that all physical health needs are identified and addressed, including their level of responsiveness, both in general and in light of the recent trauma. At this phase of the response, crisis counselors could assist other responders by obtaining demographic information (i.e. name, address, phone numbers, next of kin, medical history, current medications, and allergies) of victims being prepared for treatment and transport. Talking to and reassuring victims in a general sense would also be helpful by connecting to the victim on a personal level and establishing a rapport, acknowledging the victim’s concerns, and grounding the individual while ensuring that he or she knows that he or she is now safe. Further into the response, provide directed support to victims while allowing them to express their ordeals while providing them opportunities to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Some may benefit by providing assistance to other victims while others may require lengthy counseling sessions in order to move forward.

Any coordinated community response for large-scale incidents need to focus on health and safety, mental health, financial health, and the preservation of rights during the response. These coordinated community response programs should be comprehensive and modular while both giving and receiving assistance to and from state and federal victim assistance programs that might also be effective during the immediate aftermath of the event.

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Schadone, M. (2011, November 6). Coordinated community response to crime. Unpublished Manuscript. Walden University, Minneapolis, MN.

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. (2010, October). Responding to terrorism victims: Oklahoma City and beyond. Retrieved from ovc/publications/infores/respterrorism/welcome.html