I recently had the opportunity to interview Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on the subject of citizen preparedness. Speaking in his Capitol Hill office, Thompson told me that he believes there needs to be more emphasis on public readiness and engagement in the U.S.
He says he hopes President Obama will take the lead by urging Americans to prepare: “The President has the bully pulpit to encourage preparedness in the same way he has done on public service.” Thompson also thinks the government should provide citizens with more info about the range of homeland security threats as part of the preparedness process: “The public needs a constant flow of information so they know what to do to protect themselves.”
Thompson remembers that on September 11th, 2001 there was chaos on Capitol Hill, even with all the law enforcement there. But he observes Americans are not all that much better informed almost eight years later on what to do if something happens. Though the Chairman cautions that the public education has to be done in a careful, balanced way: “You don’t want to scare people to death to get prepared.”
In Case of Emergency, Read Blog 4/7/9