NECAC, Sheriff’s Office Teams Up to Build Tiny Homes

Pictured from left to right: Lincoln County Economic Development representative Elaine Henderson, Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jeremy Ketterer, Senator Roy Blunt’s field representative Jennifer Meyer, Sheriff John Cottle, Senator Josh Hawley’s Field Representative Ben Gruender and NECAC Deputy Director of Housing Development Carla Potts.

Last week, Donald Patrick the President and CEO of the North East Community Action Corporation (NECAC) along with Carla Potts the NECAC Deputy Director for Housing Development kicked off their newest partnership with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office…the future construction of tiny homes.

Part of Sheriff Cottle’s Workforce Reentry program for inmates and Lincoln County residents, this joint venture is also aligned with the Saint Louis Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program to provide the skills necessary for meaningful employment.

Members from Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley and Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer’s Office were in attendance to provide their continued support to see the workforce initiative grow. Elaine Henderson with the Lincoln County Economic Development team was also in attendance and spoke on the importance of education and workforce reentry for inmates and all Lincoln County citizens.

“We have been arresting people and putting them in jail for 200 years,” said Sheriff Cottle. “Then in a few weeks or months we arrest them again and the cycle continues with no hope of any future or change. This program will help inmates find meaningful employment and move toward a better life.”

Sheriff Cottle, local businessmen and women, the Governor of Missouri, along with members of Congress believe this program will improve the life of every Lincoln County citizen who wishes to enter into the program. The Workforce Reentry Program is expected to reduce recidivism by 30​ percent​.

​Lincoln News Now​

Nearly 20 Testify in Support of Violent Crime Bill

More than a dozen people — most of whom are law enforcement officials — testified in favor of the Senate legislation driving the special session on violent crime during a committee hearing Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Doug Libla’s multifaceted SB 1 includes an end to residency requirements for St. Louis police officers and other public safety personnel, certification to try certain juveniles as adults, witness statement admissibility, creation of a pre-trial witness protection fund, modification of the offense of endangering a child, and an increased penalty for illegally transferring a firearm to a minor.

Eighteen people stood to support the bill during the nearly two-hour-long hearing Tuesday afternoon. Four people (only two in-person) expressed opposition to the legislation.

The bill would “give law enforcement the tools they need to combat violent crime,” David Parrish, the Lewis County sheriff and president of the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association, said. “One of the things we’ve done in Missouri is a remarkable job of caring for the people who commit crimes. … I wonder if we would make that same commitment to the victims and witnesses who are involved in these violent incidents what type of change we’d actually make.”

Charles and Kelli Lowe also testified Tuesday about their experiences in St. Louis. Kelli Lowe is the president of the National Police Wives Association and her husband, who was ambushed and shot in 2015, is a sergeant in St. Louis.

Specifically, the couple expressed support for ending the residency requirement for officers in St. Louis as well as for greater mental health resources for officers and their families.

“With everything going on right now … being able to find the most well-equipped officers is so important,” Kelli Lowe said.

Kelli Lowe, president of the National Police Wives Association, met with Gov. Mike Parson and the first lady Tuesday ahead of the committee hearing. 

But the bill could be detrimental to minors as it stands now — particularly the provision that would certify a juvenile as an adult for certain weapons-related and armed criminal action crimes, Mo Del Villar of the ACLU of Missouri said.

“If you put kids in front of a judge, more kids will be certified. Period,” Del Villar said. “This presents another ramp for kids to be thrown into the criminal justice system.”

She also noted a racial discrepancy among minors who go through the certification process. Pointing to a 2017 report from the Missouri Juvenile and Family Division, Del Villar told lawmakers 74 percent of Black youth in Missouri who went through the process were ultimately certified to be tried as adults compared to just 26 percent of white minors.  

“Missouri’s juvenile system has been seen [as] a model across the nation, and this bill would be breaking a system intended to help kids,” she said. “If Black lives truly matter in this state, we need to find ways to prove that within each step of the process. This is an egregious difference between how young folks are being treated.”

As the global health crisis persists, the hearing was held in the Senate chambers, with committee members sitting at their desks on the third floor and witnesses, guests, and reporters congregated on the upper level. The witness microphone was stationed next to the reporters’ area.

The committee adjourned by 2:30 p.m. and is expected to go into executive session on the bill on Aug. 5.

Libla chairs the committee although fellow Republican Sen. Lincoln Hough led Tuesday’s hearing so he could testify on behalf of his own bill. Other committee members included GOP Sens. Justin Brown, Bill Eigel, and Cindy O’Laughlin as well as Democratic Sens. Karla May and Brian Williams.

By Kaitlyn Schallhorn | The Missouri Times

The First Responder Network Authority

Talbot County’s (Maryland) first responders received a boost in their wireless communications with the addition of a purpose-built cell site. Photo taken on August 27, 2019.


“So, what’s FirstNet?” You may have heard this on a tradeshow floor. You may have overheard it in the locker room. You may have even asked it yourself. Set to the most simplistic of explanations, the First Responder Network Authority is an organization established by congress that oversees the implementation of the FirstNet communications network built with AT&T. What the FirstNet Authority is not is the provider of the service.  

I connected with Assistant Chief Harry Markley (ret.), and subject matter expert for FirstNet Law Enforcement. “We’re no more a vendor than the FBI is a vendor. We’re actually part of the federal government,” he says.

Harry MarkleyThe First Responder Network AuthorityHarry Markley is the law enforcement liaison for the FirstNet Authority. His experience includes over 31 years as a police officer, retiring from the Phoenix Police Department as chief of the patrol division. He’s been with the FirstNet Authority for about two years and has since produced a newsletter sharing news and information with law enforcement. I spoke with him mid-May.

The FirstNet network has been in operation for two years and, according to Markley, 99% of the U.S. population is covered with 12,000 public safety agencies. That’s breaks down to 1.3 million connections worldwide—a significant milestone for a network so young.

It’s this acceptance that keeps Markley optimistic and parallels the network’s advancement to the Apple iPhone. “The iPhone came out 11, 12 years ago. I remember when you looked at the phone you had about 50 apps on it…and we thought it was the most amazing thing in the world. Now, if you look at the iPhone today and the 100’s of thousands of apps, the capabilities of the camera—those are the leaps to be made.

I just think about where we will be in another 10 years. Just like the iPhone, what this network is going to be able to do and how it’s going to be used are going to be amazing. It’s going to have a significant impact on not just law enforcement but on public safety as a whole.”

AT&T won the FirstNet bid and are partnered together in a 25-year long contract. While the organizations aren’t responsible for the technical side, they’re comprised of teams to oversee various aspects (like confirming reported speeds) to make sure that the build deadlines are being met.

The other side of the First Responder Network Authority organization comprises of education: what FirstNet is, what Firstnet can do, what Firstnet can’t do, and whether or not FirstNet is even the correct choice based on circumstances, location and if the service is right for the agency at the time. With his experience of going from a heavily populated area in Phoenix to the middle of nowhere within Arizona, Markley is realistic and cuts to the point, “It might not be right for everybody. That’s part of my job. Talk to them, find out what their needs are. What their resources are. Where they are located on the planet and if this is the right service for them at this time.”

It starts with coverage. Put simply, without cellular coverage you can’t talk on your phone. Without cellular coverage you can’t use data. But that doesn’t mean that coverage can’t move where you need it. Should there be a need where there isn’t coverage—say, responding to a wildfire in the middle of nowhere—a fleet of deployable units can be sent to the location. You can even use a tethered drone with a ground-based power source to provide a temporary cellular tower.

What about the radio?

Consider the computer in the patrol vehicle. Consider your smartphone. Often cellular coverage for these devices can go where radio coverage hasn’t. “We’re not looking to replace mobile radios,” Markley says. He tells me a story from Arizona, where Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the U.S., is heavily populated – there are extremely rural areas. “Areas where our state police don’t have any radio coverage at all”, he says. Once they hit radio darkness, officers were flying blind with the closest back up an hour or more away. FirstNet built with AT&T were able to provide a solution to allow officers to use their mobile phones to communicate to dispatch through an LTE-LMR integration. One trooper was quoted, “Now I can do police work again.”

Markley goes around the country demonstrating the capabilities of FirstNet, by making a call from Florida to dispatch in Arizona in the midst of IACP 2019 as well as utilizing the new Push to Talk app to connect to California while in Guam.

Can I sign up?

Many officers inquire about 1) whether they qualify and 2) if they can sign up privately. Short answer: yes, if an officer wants to be on the network on their own—they can.

Oftentimes, many people consider public safety as only police, firefighters, and EMTs— but the FirstNet Authority includes so much more. “It’s not always sworn,” he says. “There are task forces that are made up of military and civilian and they do search and rescue for a sheriff department, or they’re a part of a drug task force where they aren’t actually a sworn law enforcement officer but they provide support.” Law enforcement agencies and officers alike can contact AT&T for more information on who qualifies for access on FirstNet.

The network is only in its infancy. “We’re so early on in this process that what we’ll look like even five years from now will be so much different than what it looks like now,” says Markley. “When you look at live streaming video, when you talk about being able to live stream dash cam video, body cam video, video cameras on the end of electronic weapons. The possibilities are endless.”

Find more information at

By Jonathan Kozlowski |

2021 Law Enforcement State of the Industry Projection Survey

The Officer Media Group is proud to announce, once again, that we are launching our State of the Industry Projection Survey – the only one of its kind in the entire law enforcement community. This year’s projection survey is sponsored by Howard Leight and each person who completes 100% of the questions in the survey will be entered to win one of the sponsored prizes: A set of truly unique ear protection from their Impact Sport Honor Collection. When the survey period has closed, we’ll select, at random, three winners to receive one of the prizes.

The data received in the State of the Industry Projection Survey, when complete, will be compiled into a summary report and made available to all who complete it. It will contain information about what you, the law enforcement community leaders, expect to see from the coming year in the way of growth, challenges, budgets and more. How does the industry expect to be impacted by COVID-19, riots, protests, funding challenges? All data we collect, mine, analyze and share.

It IS a thorough and in-depth survey. We request that you take it when you have the time and access to the data for your agency. If you don’t have definitive answers, we’d request that you not make best guesses but get the correct data. Why? So when we issue the summary report, it’s as accurate as we can make it and not based on the SWAG (surgical wild @$$ guess) some folks put in.

Thank you in advance for your time taken and invested to complete the survey. Thank you to our sponsor, Howard Leight Shooting Sports, for providing us the opportunity to award unique and valuable ear protection.

 To take our State of the Industry Projection Survey CLICK HERE

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Completes Accreditation Process

Today, Sheriff John Cottle announced the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has completed the CALEA Accreditation process. The purpose of CALEA’s Accreditation Program is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, long-term planning, fiscal management, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.

The body of standards was developed using source materials voluntarily submitted by preexisting state programs and by many state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide. Those standards were based on case law, state statutes, administrative mandates, model policies and professional management materials. The program is the standard-bearer for modern law enforcement.

“I would like to thank the men and women of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in obtaining such a high standard of professionalism,” said Sheriff Cottle. “This is not an easy accreditation to achieve and it takes months to earn. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Sheriff Cottle earned Lincoln County’s first accreditation in 2008.

Benefits of Accreditation

-Improves officer and public safety
-Addresses high risk management issues
-Promotes operational efficiency through policy development
-Provides a norm for the agency to judge its performance
-Provides a basis to correct deficiencies before they become public problems
-Requires agencies to commit policies and procedures to writing
-Promotes accountability
-Verifies compliance
-Provides a means of independent evaluation of agency operations
-Minimizes an agency’s exposure to liability
-Potentially reduces liability insurance costs
-Enhances the reputation of the agency, thereby attracting the best qualified candidates for employment
-Increases public confidence

FBI Releases 2019 Use of Force Data

According to the FBI, 5,043 federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies submitted use-of-force data to the National Use-of-Force Data Collection for 2019. Agencies submitted data for each qualifying instance of an officer using force. Qualifying uses of force include any action that resulted in the death or serious bodily injury1 of a person, or the discharge of a firearm at or in the direction of a person. If no qualifying incidents occurred, agencies submitted a zero report for that month. Only agencies that submitted at least one incident report or zero report for 2019 were included in this total.

The FBI developed the National Use-of-Force Data Collection at the request of major law enforcement organizations that noted the lack of nationwide statistics on the topic. Participation by law enforcement agencies is entirely voluntary. For the data collection’s inaugural year, the agencies submitting 2019 data represented 41% of all federal, state, local, and tribal sworn officers.2 Participation details for federal agencies and states can be found on the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget, which oversees various data collections, worked with the FBI to establish parameters for publishing use-of-force data based upon the number of sworn officers represented by participating agencies. These parameters align with best practices and serve to protect the privacy of officers and subjects, as well as to ensure the data is nationally representative of qualifying uses of force. As participation levels reach specific milestones, increasingly more detailed use-of-force statistics will be shared.

Inside the FBI: National Use-of-Force Data Collection

On this episode of Inside the FBI, learn about the National Use-of-Force Data Collection, which works to promote transparency between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

At this time, because the agencies submitting use-of-force data represent more than 40% of the officers in the nation, participation data may be released. When 60% of the total officer population is represented, ratios and percentages, as well as the most frequently reported responses to questions (in list format without actual counts) may be published. When 80% of officers are represented by submitted data, aggregate use-of-force data may be presented. If at any time the data from agencies represents less than 40% of the total officer population, the FBI will not disseminate use-of-force data.

As more agencies become aware of the opportunity, participation in the data collection is expected to continue to grow. Some states and agencies not yet submitting data have reported they are in the process of developing technological solutions to do so. For more information on the data collection, see the National Use-of-Force Data Collection website and the Crime Data Explorer.

1 For the purpose of this data collection, the definition of serious bodily injury is based, in part, on Title 18 United States Code, Section 2246 (4): The term “‘serious bodily injury’ means bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.”

2 When determining law enforcement participation in the National Use-of-Force Data Collection, the FBI uses a total count of 860,000 sworn police employees, as estimated by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. This police employee count includes all known and reasonably presumed federal, local, state, tribal, and college and university sworn law enforcement personnel eligible to participate in the National Use-of-Force Data Collection.

Cass Sheriff’s Deputy Elected State DARE President

Cass County Sheriff Jeff Weber announced two Cass County D.A.R.E. officers were chosen to serve on the State Board of the Missouri D.A.R.E. Officers Association.

At their annual conference this year, Corporal Christine Eddleman was sworn in as president of the Missouri D.A.R.E. Officers Association. Corporal Eddleman has been with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office since 2005 and currently serves as the D.A.R.E. Unit supervisor.

Deputy Stacy Gunn was elected to serve as the Region 7 representative for M.D.O.A. That position serves west central Missouri.

“Is a great honor to have two Cass County deputies on the State Board of the Missouri D.A.R.E. Officers Association. I am very proud of our D.A.R.E. and SRO deputies who protect and educate our children. Their leadership and dedication to their schools, community and this office is second to none,” said Sheriff Jeff Weber.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office currently provides D.A.R.E. at Archie, Cass Midway, Drexel, East Lynne, Pleasant Hill, Sherwood and Strasburg Schools. The sheriff’s office also provides school resource officers at Pleasant Hill, Raymore-Peculiar, and Sherwood School Districts.  

Missouri Crisis Intervention Team Internationally Recognized

The Missouri Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Council announced that Detective Jason Klaus, Missouri CIT Coordinator, was given the 2020 CIT International Coordinator of the Year Award and Corporal Leann Robertson, with the Rolla Police Department, was named the 2020 CIT International First Responder of the Year. 

The Missouri CIT Council and specific members have been recognized internationally for the past five years.

Det. Klaus is with the Perry County Sheriff’s Department and was chosen for his strong leadership of the Missouri CIT Council. He was recognized for helping CIT thrive and expand throughout the state, while doing an excellent job of engaging with different levels of support and promoting CIT well beyond the trainings. He encourages fellow law enforcement officers to become CIT specialists.

Cpl. Robertson is with the Rolla Police Department and is recognized as an officer who demonstrates exemplary CIT knowledge and skills. She was recognized for doing a great job of sharing her knowledge of community resources and successfully de-escalating tense situations. Robertson was also acknowledged for her relationships with her mental health community and showing true compassion to individuals and families who struggle with mental illness and substance use disorders.

The Missouri CIT program is a partnership that includes law enforcement, behavioral health providers, hospitals, the court system, individuals with lived experience and community partners who are dedicated to implementing the Missouri Model of CIT.

The goals of CIT are: Promote more effective interactions between law enforcement and individuals in crisis through a 40 hour training centered on behavioral health education and de-escalation skills; help individuals in crisis by connecting them with appropriate community resources in an effort to divert involvement with the criminal justice system; improve the safety of the officer and individuals in crisis; reduce stigma and expand CIT across the state.

For more information about Missouri CIT visit

Rolla Daily News

The Weapon Cleaning Area and Best Practices

Is your firearm cleaning area ready and prepared appropriately for you and your weapon to be effective?

If you ask any firearms instructor to list out the requirements or best practices for cleaning weapons, you’ll get a list of responses in a variety of priority. The one thing almost every firearms instructor in the world will agree on: No ammunition is permitted in your cleaning area—ever. “Accidental” discharges usually aren’t; negligent discharges are. To help avoid the unintentional chambering and discharge of any ammo, it’s simply best not to have any in the area where you clean your weapons.

Hand in hand with that control condition is the rule to always double-check that your weapon is unloaded before you start cleaning. Many dedicated cleaning spaces have a designated clearing area just outside or near the entrance. Make sure your weapon is empty before you enter your cleaning workspace. Look and feel to make sure the chamber is empty, and then do it again. No magazines inserted in semi-autos. Cylinders open on revolvers. Actions open on long guns and shotguns. Look and feel. Do it again. Yes, it can start to seem silly but the moment you take for granted that you’ve checked and all is good is when things start to go south. NEVER take an unloaded weapon for granted.

The last “universal” rule for weapons cleaning and maintenance is to always clean it after you shoot it. That said, what about weapons you don’t shoot? If you’re going to carry it for duty or self-defense, it should be cleaned monthly. There are plenty of folks who don’t follow the monthly guideline but still clean their weapons at least quarterly. If you have a weapon you don’t shoot at least quarterly and you’re planning to carry it (or do carry it) for duty or defense, you really need to re-examine your practices.

Prepping the space

If you have a dedicated space available, it makes sense to prepare it beforehand. If you know this will be the space, workbench, table, or desk used, you can increase your efficiency by making sure of a few things prior to getting that dirty weapon at hand for cleaning.

Take the appropriate steps to protect your health as it relates to chemical exposure while cleaning the weapon(s).

Ventilation is an often-overlooked concern, usually because weapons are cleaned outside or in fairly large areas such as a garage or workspace. However, if your cleaning area is in a smaller area, you need to be cognizant of the vapors, microparticles, and others that will either exist or be created by your efforts in cleaning your weapon. Having a good quality filtered air circulation system or a high volume fan venting to the outside is recommended.ID 163621874 © Alexandr Tsalko |

Have at hand and wear proper eye protection.

As you scrub, wipe or otherwise handle your weapon pieces to clean them, the fine spray of solvent, lubricant, carbon dust, etc. all get flung into the air in very unpredictable directions. You don’t want to get any of that in your eyes, so just like you wear protective eyewear on the range to shoot, wear protective eyewear to clean.

Have the proper tools for disassembly of your various weapons available and, to some extent, protect them from other use.

Quite a few gun owners have learned the lesson of using a tool that wasn’t the right one but was forced into use. They buggered up their weapon in some way, harming either function or finish. There are also plenty of gun owners who have properly equipped their workspace with necessary tools only to have those tools “borrowed” by people for other uses. Sometimes those tools just never find their way back and then, during the process of disassembly and cleaning, the wrong tool has to be substituted. Secure the right tools. Organize them. Dedicate them.

The same applies to your tools used for cleaning. From bore brushes to wipes and rods, make sure you have the correct ones for your handguns and long guns in the appropriate calibers. Know the difference between a chamber brush (for cleaning the cylinder chambers on a revolver) and a barrel brush (for cleaning barrels) and don’t confuse them. Have brass or nylon and use them appropriately. Old toothbrushes can be handy, not to mention dental picks. Your local dental office usually throws away the broken ones, but will often hold and gift them to you if you ask. Have the proper variety of wipe sizes available.

Have at hand and properly organize your solvents and lubricants.

There is a wide variety available and you need to know any risks that exist if you use them on your firearms beforehand. For instance, some solvents aren’t safe for use on polymer frames. Some products are sold to “do it all” like clean, lubricate, and protect. Others are sold as metal conditioners. While they can be used for cleaning, it’s not their purpose and they don’t necessarily perform that function efficiently. Know what you’re using and use it appropriately. Be aware of any conflicts or dangers that exist in the chemicals you have at hand. Be sure to keep them separated and used safely.

Cleaning up afterward

Remember that, as you’ve cleaned your weapons, you’ve contaminated your hands, your clothes and all of the consumables—wipes, cotton swabs, etc. Many places consider them hazardous materials (the dirty consumables). If you haven’t been properly disposing of them ​​as you work, clean off your workspace and make sure you’ve thrown them away in a disposable bag. Any rags you’ve dirtied and plan to reuse need to be washed separately in hot water with a good grease-cutting detergent. The clothes you were wearing should be handled and washed the same way you would after you wore them to the range. Before you do anything else, after you’ve cleaned up, you need to thoroughly wash your hands at least halfway up your forearms unless you were wearing long sleeves during the weapon cleaning process.

Whether you are one of those gun owners who hates cleaning their weapons after a day spent shooting or you love to care for your weapons, how you go about it matters. Proper preparation, proper tools, proper safety, and proper procedure can make it a smooth and safe process.  

By Lt. Frank Borelli (ret) |

Benefiting From Crisis Lessons Learned

COMMENTARY | Elected and appointed officials must anticipate a broad range of possible catastrophes and put effective plans in place now to meet challenges like Covid-19 and future disasters.

From hurricanes to pandemics, all disasters share a common set of characteristics. They are sudden, unexpected, carry severe life-threatening consequences and won’t abate until there is a satisfactory resolution of the underlying situation.

The key to successfully navigating crisis is recognizing the six distinct phases of emotional reaction that come before, during and after a disaster. They start with the pre-disaster phase, when people are gripped with fear about what is to come; next is impact, as everybody juggles different emotions and begins to comprehend the damage toll; and then heroic, when people can act to address the immediate challenges they face. Subsequently, there is the honeymoon phase, when people feel optimistic about how things will work out, which is then followed by disillusionment as individuals confront the totality of the tasks ahead of them. Finally, there is reconstruction, where people come to grips with what they lost and accept the need and timetable for rebuilding.

Viewed through this prism, the re-emergence of Covid-19 and the resulting seesaw between openings and closings is understandable as optimism morphs into disillusionment. For government, that means calibrating its ongoing engagement accordingly.

As the city manager of Panama City, Florida, where Hurricane Michael made landfall in October 2018 as the first Category 5 storm to strike the U.S. since 1992 and the strongest storm to ever hit the Florida Panhandle—our community knows the evolution of people’s reactions well. To that end, the successful four-part template that guided our recovery can, with some necessary customization, can help communities across the country manage the impact of, and recovery from, the Covid-19 pandemic. The key elements of that template are:

Outline Specific Lines of Effort: There is no question that disasters are complex operating environments. Therefore, the first step is to develop a strategy aligned to each specific function of the recovery effort that is overseen and staffed by the professionals best suited to those tasks and articulate defined goals and success metrics. In response to Hurricane Michael, we identified safety and security, economy, key and vital infrastructure and quality of life as the key lines of effort. This format could serve as an effective coronavirus response framework. For example, communities could focus their coronavirus strategy around health and medical care/personnel, economic continuity, equipment supply chain, community changes, and education. Without this division of responsibilities, the enormity of the crisis leads to confusion of roles and an inability to achieve sustainable progress.

Communicate: There is no such thing as over​-​communicating in a disaster. Officials should communicate as often as possible to the widest possible breadth to both internal and external stakeholders through the crisis and its aftermath. Within government that means setting expectations for city employees, like first responders, involved in the response so that they can rise to the occasion. Externally, regular communication to the affected community will foster trust and help reduce anxiety and displace rumor and speculation. Harnessing every communications tool available and driving a reliable cadence of information will earn the trust of citizens that their leaders are acting decisively on their behalf.

Document Work and Accomplishments: The need to prove that work was accomplished through a workflow is crucial. Given the sums of direct and reimbursed federal assistance at stake, and the urgency of the situation, audit trails and transparency play a key role in demonstrating that the assistance was used properly. Moreover, this careful tracking makes it possible for communities to tangibly demonstrate the value the assistance provided.

Prepare Proactively: Simply put, the time to prepare is before the crisis arrives. Start with conducting a candid vulnerability assessment and then map each major threat to a specific plan of action. Once those are in place, holding tabletop drills that further identify areas of improvement will make the difference between a successful response and one that falls flat. Working through these exercises will help teams make necessary changes that will preserve life and infrastructure. This process also presents opportunities for government leaders to recognize the specific types of relief it can provide like waiving taxes and fees before the crisis occurs.

In Panama City, we are working to ​​become the premier city in the Florida Panhandle. We are doing that by developing a strong bond with our resilient and resolute community and marshaling all of our available government resources to set overall objectives. Never is this more important than in crisis recovery. No challenge is too large or complex, to keep us from fulfilling our duties, not even one as omnipresent as the Covid-19 pandemic.

​By ​Mark McQueen ​| Route 50

Mark McQueen ​is the ​c​ity ​manager of Panama City, FL., and a ​m​ajor ​g​eneral (retired), United States Army.