Local Issues

The Unseen Hand of NIMS in Communities

Building Government Los Angeles City Hall Hall

State and local governments are the frontline of defense against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, And, we haven’t been sitting idly by, we’ve been preparing for it. For the last 15 years, local governments have been making plans for manmade and natural disasters under the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

One of the great successes that came out of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, NIMS have assured that every county and major city has an emergency management team in place who constantly reviews processes and procedures to deploy in emergency situations. Things may appear messy at first, but there is a plan in place to protect our communities.

“Communities across the nation experience a diverse set of threats, hazards, and events. The size, frequency, complexity, and scope of these incidents vary, but all involve a range of personnel and organizations to coordinate efforts to save lives, stabilize the incident, and protect property and the environment,” the FEMA website says of NIMS. “Every day, jurisdictions and organizations work together to share resources, integrate tactics, and act collaboratively. Whether these organizations are nearby or are supporting each other from across the country, their success depends on a common, interoperable approach to sharing resources, coordinating and managing incidents, and communicating information. The NIMS defines this comprehensive approach.”

NIMS is non-partisan, it does not make political considerations but sets the processes in-which federal, state and local governments react to disasters. Every policy action we are witnessing at the local level is in planned coordination to ease the public into taking proactive measures to flatten the surge of coronavirus infections. Starting with public education about the virus and things people can do about hygiene, to closures of public spaces to the eventual shelter in place order.

The federal government has not taken a hard stance by imposing burdensome restrictions because the states, in coordination with localities, have taken the lead to do what is in the best interest of their residents. This relationship between the federal and state governments can best seen in the cooperation and admiration shared between the governors of New York and California with President Trump.

“We had a private conversation, but he said, ‘We’re gonna do the right thing’ and ‘You have my support, all of our support, logistically and otherwise,’” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a Monday news conference as reported by Newsweek. “He said everything I could have hoped for … and we had a very long conversation and every single thing he said, they followed through on.”

“I think the president was 100% sincere in saying that he wanted to work together … in a spirit of cooperation,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, as reported by CNBC. “I want to say thank you … they will have nothing but cooperation and partnership from the state of New York.”

The only way forward through the pandemic is to work the NIMS plan in a spirit of cooperation and coordination between federal, state and local governments. Politics will only complicate our treatment and recovery from the coronavirus.


In Depth: Local Issues

While all eyes look to Washington and the state capitals for answers, often times the government closest to home can come up with the best solutions. Local government is a key thread in the fabric of American government, fostering an approach to problem solving that puts communities first. In states…

+ Local Issues In Depth