Third Annual Public Policy Colloquium: Dedicated to Thomas A. Constantine

May 27, 2015

The New York State Homeland Security Strategy highlights the importance of promoting citizen and community preparedness for disasters as well as promoting community resilience by working to increase citizens' ability to sustain themselves and assist their neighbors during large-scale emergencies. To support this effort, the National Center for Security and Preparedness (NCSP) in partnership with the New York State Preparedness Training Center (SPTC), hosted its Third Annual Public Policy Colloquium titled Community Resilience, Preparedness and Recovery: A Triad in Emergency Management on May 7, 2015.

The colloquium was a unique opportunity to bring together academics and practitioners to discuss community resilience, its association with emergency management, and to identify strategies for how communities can respond to and recover from disasters. The event attracted a wide audience from: the American Red Cross and Health Care Association NYS; emergency managers from Albany, Otsego, Dutchess and Saratoga counties; and personnel from the NYS Public Service Department, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), Office of Emergency Management, Division of State Police, Department of Health, Office of Information and Technology Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Director Mathews opened the event with a discussion on the evolution of emergency management and key challenges in building resilient communities. Mr. Kevin Wisely, DHSES Executive Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Office of Emergency Management, discussed New York State's forward leaning and proactive emergency response posture and the importance of community preparedness. Dr. David Rousseau, Interim Dean of UAlbany's new College for Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cyber Security discussed the objectives of the new institution and the importance of collaborative partnerships with the homeland security enterprise.

Presentations included experts from the University of Maryland, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START); John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY), and Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy (University at Albany, SUNY). Collectively, speakers shared their perspectives on the role of communities in emergency preparedness and how this affects best practices, training, and policy formulation.

Dr. Sandra Knight, Director of the Center for Disaster Resilience and former FEMA administrator for Mitigation, discussed efforts for defining and assessing community resilience capabilities and the relevance of proxies for measuring performance. Experts from START presented their training program on Crisis and Risk Communication as a specific case of strengthening community resilience. Presentations showed how academia and practice are moving in the same direction: prompting innovations to assess the progress of public programs.

Mr. Terry Hastings, Senior Advisor at the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, presented preliminary results of the County Emergency Preparedness Assessment (CEPA). The project is a Governor's initiative to improve the understanding of preparedness capabilities in New York State that relies on a tool to assess risk, capabilities, and the need for support during emergencies. DHSES conducts the assessment in collaboration with county emergency managers and local stakeholders.

In the afternoon, the diverse audience engaged in an open dialogue with the speakers identifying critical components of resilience and opportunities for local governments to enhance preparedness and risk communication. They shared their views on best practices, including the importance of developing mechanisms to identify communities' strengths, capabilities, and risks. NCSP/SPTC plans to develop emergency preparedness, command, and leadership training tailored to fulfill the needs identified through the colloquium's discussions that will contribute to better prepared and more resilient communities and local governments.

At the conclusion of the colloquium, Director Mathews dedicated the conference to the late Thomas Constantine, former New York State Police Superintendent, DEA Administrator, University at Albany Public Service Professor, and NCSP Senior Advisor. Tom was good friend and mentor to the NCSP and its employees and a driving force behind the Public Policy Colloquium series. The event seeks to embody his dedication, open-mindedness, and unflinching honesty in service to New York State and the nation. The NCSP looks forward to the 4th annual Thomas A. Constantine Public Policy Colloquium in 2016.