[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to EMForum.org.
I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Host and Moderator today and we
are very glad you could join us.
We are reminded once again by the devastating tornado outbreak in
Oklahoma that local disaster response is on the front lines and
communities must prepare for the unique hazards they face as best they
can. Today our guest will share some thoughts on meeting community
needs, even as preparedness dollars are shrinking.
Now it is my pleasure to welcome today’s guest: Judson Freed has over 25
years of emergency management-related experience and currently serves
as Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for Ramsey
County, MN, home to the state capitol, St. Paul.
Judd serves on a number of government affairs committees including Vice
Chair of the Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, Subcommittee
on Homeland Security and Emergency Management at the National
Association of Counties; Chair of the Government Affairs Committee for
the Association of Minnesota Emergency Managers; and IAEM’s Government
Affairs Committee. As a member of the Emergency Management Accreditation
Program (EMAP) Technical Committee and as an EMAP Commissioner, he
helped write the EMAP standard.
Welcome Judd, and thank you very much for taking the time to be with us
today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.
Judson Freed: Thank you, Amy and Avagene. Thank you all
for coming back. I appreciate it. Hopefully something we
will say today will be worthwhile.
Without further ado I’ll talk a little bit about where I am and what we
do in Ramsey County and put everything into context for you. That
red mark is the state of Minnesota. For those of you having
trouble orienting, above that is Canada. I have found a lot of
folks don’t know where we are in the nation.
Minnesota is a mixture state. We have a lot of agriculture and we
have a lot of rural communities and we have some serious large urban
areas. Almost one-half of the population lives in the Twin
Within the state of Minnesota, Ramsey County is located there at the red
mark. It is a small county near the Wisconsin border and we like
I tell you a little bit about our county because one size does not fit
all and I don’t want to pretend that it does. Ramsey County is
only about 170 square miles of which about 140 square miles are land—the
rest being lakes. We are the most densely populated county in the
state of Minnesota. Our current population is just over 520,000.
Uniquely about twenty percent of my population does not speak English at
home. We have seventeen suburban municipalities and a
township. The city of Saint Paul, which is our state capital, is
also in our county. Uniquely enough Ramsey has been listed as one
hundred percent urbanized for about twenty years.
We have almost no land left to develop. People are packed in
here. We are part of the Twin Cities urban area under the Urban
Area Security Initiative grants which helps and will lend a little bit
of context to what I’m going to talk about today. Ramsey County is
in the top thirty most densely populated counties in the entire nation.
As the slide says there are a little more than 3,300 people per square
mile and packed into a hundred and seventy square miles, it gets pretty
ugly pretty fast when anything goes bad. We are Minnesota’s only
Home Rule Charter county which proposes a few little unique things we
are able to do although quite honestly we don’t act under our Home Rule
Charter. We act like any other county.
Minnesota—even though it is considered fly-over country by the rest of
the world actually has been pretty active disaster-wise. We have
had six Presidentially Declared Disasters in my county alone since
2000. We have nine law enforcement agencies, ten separate fire
departments, one county-wide public health department and two major
environmental health departments ourselves in the city.
There is some other environmental health work that is done in a few of
our communities as well. There is no “uni-gov” here. We
don’t own and control all the assets. My communities do.
That leads to some very unique mutual aid arrangements and mutual aid
needs. The running joke around here is that if you spill a bottle
of beer on the south end of the county the people on the north end fall
over drunk and as a result everybody has to help anybody whenever any
thing goes wrong.
The Twin Cities Urban Area is one of the six Homeland Security Regions
within our state. We have a logo. That is going to become
important in another slide. We do have a logo and that makes us
official. As you can see in the little circle, that is the Twin
Cities Metro area. Those counties account for between one-third
and one-half of the population of the state.
It is sort of the northern end of tornado alley. We get a lot of
smaller tornados and fortunately not too many large ones. Most
recently two years ago a strong F1 went through downtown
Minneapolis. Minneapolis is our largest city. It has a
little over one million people. It struck an economically
depressed residential area.
We had thousands of homes destroyed and it was the same day Joplin,
Missouri got hit so nobody heard about us. We still have about
three hundred families that are out of their homes and significant
construction work going on. It was just one of those things that
when you have a community that is completely devastated versus a big
city that has a few neighborhoods devastated you don’t get as much
publicity. Sometimes that can be good.
A few years back we had an interesting disaster which proved the worth
of working together. Just at the tail end of rush hour the
Interstate 35W Highway Bridge collapsed into the Mississippi
River. Fortunately we only had thirteen fatalities and a few
hundred injuries from that disaster but when you lose an interstate
highway and one that is a primary route into Canada it becomes a serious
issue and causes all kinds of problems here.
What was pointed out to us was the value of training together. As
I’ll talk about in a few moments within the Metro area we have been
training together since the late 1990’s and doing a lot of work together
to try to coordinate things. When the bridge collapsed, within
about five minutes we had five county emergency operation centers that
stood up their activities.
When the “ya’ll come” alert went out our fire departments and police
departments from all over the area began responding. As you might
figure the initial hour or two of chaos when you have that many agencies
come in was rather quickly corralled under incident command and using
those tenets of NIMS.
Although I’m going to be critical of some of the things Homeland
Security and FEMA have imposed on us, I’m not going to be critical about
everything. I hope that will come through as we go.
We’ll start around the year 2001. Back before in the 1990’s—I
don’t know how many of you will remember the Nunn-Luger-Domenici
Act—under the Nunn-Luger Act they identified 125 large cities in the
United States. Minneapolis and Saint Paul were two of those
cities—our Twin Cities/Metro area and they started encouraging training
for weapons of mass destruction.
There was a little bit of grant money for buying some stuff. The
biggest most valuable thing that did is it started us talking.
Before that the major areas kept to themselves. They didn’t talk
as much as they should. There was a lot of going for what is best
for me as opposed to what is going best for us.
Things were kind of scary. We were worried about how we would
handle a large event. It was also a policy decision by some of our
leadership. At that time I was the Director for the University of
Minnesota system. One of the things that was sort of clear was that our
bosses—mayors and presidents of universities—didn’t really want us
cooperating particularly if there was money on the line with other
Before Nunn-Luger we would meet in secret. We had a group named
after one of the people who founded it and we would meet for lunch with
no agenda officially. We had to do things under the table a little
bit. With the advent of the Nunn-Luger Act and some of the WMD
concentration it started to get a little bit better. That would
stand us well when the bridge collapsed because we had a few years jump
on a lot of other people.
After 9/11—I was still at the university at the time—we started to have a
lot of mends to do something—to fix it, whatever it happens to
be. If you’ll remember in October of 2001 that is when the anthrax
attacks happen and our law enforcement people, in particular, who had
been through all the WMD training were really afraid. When you
can’t see something, these guys and gals got kind of nervous.
There was a big demand that we do something—get them the stuff they
would need to be able to operate in that environment. My friend
Bill Wong refers to this as the crisis-driven policy window. It is
a basic reality that after every major event in the United States the
government—usually the feds but all the way down to us locals—first lay
the blame—find out why this horrible thing happened and then we develop a
law as a reflex. The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act, the
Sandy Emergency Management Act, the Nine-Eleven Act—all these laws we
keep throwing at things thinking that will fix it because you have to do
something. That’s the thought.
Our cops needed to be protected from anthrax so we protected them.
We bought them the PAPR (positive air pressure respirators)—it sounded
like a great idea. Looking back once I came here to the county we
came to the realization that we probably could have done better with
better training. The equipment made it hard to be a police officer
wearing that hood with the air pressure respirator on it.
There are the horror stories of some agencies that went out and put
level A HazMat suits in the back seats of their squad cars that folks
weren’t even trained to use. Some people reacted even worse than
we did. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do. In
2001 or 2002 I could have stood up in front of the news people and said
we were doing the right thing. We were protecting our law
enforcement and making sure they can protect you, the citizen.
But no in the hindsight of 2013 we could have used that money a little
bit better. That would be the guiding principle when I came here
to Ramsey County.
I don’t know how it works where you guys work but in our county when I
first came here everything was done individually. We had nineteen
separate municipal areas in our county. Seventeen are fully in our
county and there are a couple we share with another county.
Everything was done multiple times.
We had separate emergency operations plans, separate approval for each
one by the county’s EMA, everything had to be done separate times.
Each of the municipalities received a pittance in EMPG grant money and
none of these communities had full-time emergency managers. All
the training and exercises were done separately and uncoordinated.
At the time in Ramsey County there was a director, a coordinator and a
secretary—three full-time employees only. The problem was
reconciling those differences so that we could respond together.
The very first thing I did—and to me it is the one really right thing
I’ve done—like everybody else, I’m not perfect but the best thing I’ve
done as the director in Ramsey County is we went to a common county
emergency operations plan.
There are 147 separate items that the state of Minnesota makes us to do
be compliant with both federal and Minnesota rules and law. To
have part-time emergency managers who are also in one case the public
works director, or the city manager, or the fire chief, or in some cases
a junior level firefighter—they are the official emergency managers for
their communities. To have them do these checklists and meet 147
items and then have the county verify 147 items nineteen separate times
In exchange for keeping the EMPG money rather than giving a couple of
thousand dollars to each community—we keep it all now. We now have
five full-time emergency managers. I no longer have a secretary
or receptionist which sometimes is a pain. In addition to myself
we have other people who work here.
With grant money we actually have some part-time people who work with us
as well and we have thirty volunteers. That is one thing I can
hang my hat on that we’ve done right. My local emergency managers
then can concentrate on their SOPs for their community and not so much
worry about whether they are dotting I’s and crossing T’s.
In the county we coordinate what everybody does. We make sure
everything meets the rules and the laws, and more importantly the intent
of those rules and laws. It also helps us to lean forward as FEMA
talks about in the National Response Framework—that leaning forward
attitude that is part of our emergency plan now. If there is
something really bad—not just a regular fire—but something really bad
happens in one of our communities, one of my staff members goes
there. We let them send us home but we don’t wait for them to call
That is how we do things here. I understand that not one size fits
all. You may not be able to duplicate what we do and it may not
even work in your community but that is what we have done here. I
thought for truth in advertising I should let you know.
As far as Homeland Security spending goes the biggest question of all
with these things, to me anyway, is how we are justifying our
spending. Now it is over forty billion dollars in Homeland
Security spending. Congress is always on us for metrics and
getting them numbers. What do we measure? How do we know
what to measure?
The biggest question of all is what about the risk? We keep
hearing Congress talking about risk but I have found that DHS has a very
poor grasp of risk. If there is anybody from DHS out here I’m
sorry to say that but I’ve said it to folks at DHS and I’ll continue to
say it. Risk is a really important concept and most of us don’t
have a really great grasp of it and how to cope with it. That is a
All this money came out. This shows from fiscal year seven to last
fiscal year how our UASI awards have gone down consistently but
interestingly enough yesterday DHS announced the UASI allotments and our
numbers are going to go up. We are going to get more money than
we did in 2012 which goes absolutely contrary to everything they’ve been
telling us to plan for. The other thing that is very interesting
is that if you go online and download how the urban area grants were
sent out all that talk about risk has me a little confused.
There are two tiers of urban areas out there—the very big cities, the
obvious targets—the New Yorks, the Chicagos, the Los Angeles’.
Then there are the tier two cities—the smaller ones in theory with a lot
more risk than the other 120 big cities in the nation. In looking
at the tier two cities, the others like the Twin Cities, every one of
them either got three million or five point five million dollars
That is what the award is. I’m trying to figure out in my head how
is that risk based. I’m grateful to get the money we’re getting
but why would the Twin Cities get a certain amount and a ton of others
get the same when there is a ranking they do that is supposed to be
about risk. There are reasons for that and the biggest one is something
that in my research when I was writing my thesis I found—it’s something
called Keyne’s Error One.
The first thing that happens is that in order to achieve security
governments are willing to accept a degradation of some of their values
in favor of others. In order to achieve security we will trade off
as a government some of our understanding of the real risk just to get
it done. You’ll see this in your local government at the end of
the session for your state government—you’ll find a lot of bills will
pass at the end just to get them passed.
People will trade off on their ethics sometimes. The idea is that
this comes from an incomplete understanding of really what the
objectives are. If the objectives are to address risk based on our
actual risk of danger I don’t understand where those policy trade-offs
can be allowed. Keynes did the research and this is a common occurrence.
What we are doing is adhering rigidly to the laws that were passed
during the crisis driven policy window. When I did my research—I
actually teach risk part-time at a local university here—I took a look
at some of the findings from international insurance risk raters.
They say that the United States ranks well behind Spain and England and a
number of other countries.
We are only at a moderate risk for acts of terrorism. I know that
is hard to say in light of what happened in Boston but we are at limited
risk. However the occurrence of one billion dollar weather
incidents is extremely common. We saw what might raise that high
again just the other day. We have lots of casualties from
weather. We have a few casualties from terrorism.
We have lots of likelihood of weather. We have few likelihoods of
terrorism. But we concentrate mostly on terrorism as a nation and
that guided how we spent some of our grant money.
I don’t know if you’ve read this or not but this is what the Senate
thinks of us. This was put out by Senator Coburn’s office, “We
cannot secure liberty and guarantee security by spending more and more
money.” That is his first finding out there, that we spend more
and more money for security. They keep giving us more and more
money so obviously we are going to spend it.
He also says that preparedness grants were intended to be an initial
investment to get us started on the road to being ready for these
acts. Then he pointed out a lot of the waste. The fact of
the matter is that the vast, vast, vast majority of the money was not
wasted. It was either used very well or used to the best
intent. Our purpose for those PAPRs that I spoke about
earlier—again in 2013 I look back and wish we had done something else
with it—but in 2002 it made sense.
It wasn’t wasted money. It was money that could have been done
better. We, emergency managers and Homeland Security
professionals, become our own worst enemies. If you look at the
quote, someone bought a fish tank. Someone put a latrine on
wheels. Somebody built a hog catcher and bought those with
Homeland Security grant monies.
They probably have some worth but what we forget is how they look.
That is a really important thing. We have to remember that
politics are a part of what we do. The theory behind what Senator
Coburn says is that what we do has no value—is supplanting local amounts
of money what is the responsibility of the locals as opposed to the
federal government and that we are full of waste.
That is what the public sees. They see the politicians on
television and they think this of us—that we have no value, that we are
supplanting local responsibility by asking for federal money and that
the money we get, we waste.
This is the single most hated purchase on earth according to Senator
Coburn. It is the armored personnel carrier for law
enforcement. I tell you they are really useful vehicles.
They are necessary vehicles if you have an urban area SWAT team or
something like that—you need something to keep your officers safe.
But if you read the Coburn report he damns them based on the idea that
cities that have bought them have low homicide rates. There is no
correlation at all between the use of a Bearcat which protects your SWAT
guys while you go in and helps you get injured people or the bad guy
out of there are shots ringing out and the homicide rate.
They have nothing to do with each other. It is like saying you
shouldn’t drink water because butterflies are pretty. It means
nothing. But it is the argument we have to make. Why do we
buy them? We buy them because there it not another one like it
soon enough. We have to justify that. What is available soon
If you can’t answer it, don’t buy that item. If you can’t put a
real life non-law enforcement, an emergency management answer to why we
buy these, don’t buy it because it will end up getting you in trouble in
The second most hated purchase is the command post truck. It was
the first big purchase that almost everybody made. I am proud to
say we did not make one of these right away. What do you need a
command post for? How many command posts do you need? Argue
this with your fire department and I bet you they will tell you they
need command truck at every single fire. Other fire departments
don’t need it at all because they can do it from the back of their Ford
What other ones are available? We lucked out. We got a used
one right around the same time and I had enough budget money to put the
electronics in it and things like that. I didn’t have to use any
grant money on it originally. Then when we needed to outfit it to
meet the needs of our hostage negotiation team and our SWAT teams—we
have two SWAT teams that serve my suburban county plus a third one in
Saint Paul—we decided instead of making it like everybody else’s command
post truck we would make it an incident command post—basically a mobile
EOC on wheels, not a mobile communications center.
We did that intentionally because there was nothing else like it around
us. If we needed a mobile communications center we go and call one
from our neighbors. If they needed a giant office space with
computers to run an EOC type of environment or to run a secure hostage
negotiation in the event of something bad happening or a place where our
intelligence analysts can sit around and try to figure out what is
going on if we have an explosion—or bomb squads use it as well—that is
what our truck is for.
Now that the thing is finally breaking we are going to replace it.
We will use some grant money for that. We have already proved
that it is not going to sit in the garage and that we do use it on a
regular basis. All the stuff that was put into it with grant money
is going to be moved into the new truck so none of that will be wasted
It is more the political thing. I would love to go out and get if
fully equipped and get all the bells and whistles but politically it is
really not a possible thing. I need to achieve the capability of
having that kind of command post that can work with my hostage
negotiators and terrorist analysts both—I’m far more likely to have my
hostage negotiators go out because they go out almost weekly than a
terrorist thing. I need to be able to justify that to the media
[Slide 16, 17]
That is a part of how we crafted our shopping and spending plan in our urban area and for using our grants.
What did we do when it comes to shopping and spending? We’ll go
into that. The first thing we did was we looked at risk. The
risk formula that most people use is R=TVC (threat times vulnerability
times consequences). As someone who teaches risk can tell you that
is a really simplistic view of the concept of risk and it neglects what
you do to mitigate.
If you buy a piece of fence that building is no longer as vulnerable as
it was. Every piece of fence you buy makes it less
vulnerable. There is no way to calculate that based on a simple
mathematical formula of T times V times C. By the time you finish
that project you are actually spending money on something that is less
It is kind of a hard concept but it is true. When we are looking
at things we look first at something that is neglected in the common
look at risk and that is probability. In general what we are
instructed to do from DHS—what Administrator Fugate calls the maximum of
maximums. That sounds really good at first. We should be worrying
about the three mega-ton nuclear device and the tsunami and all that
But by focusing on that we start to lose a little track of
reality. In other words, what is the difference to you if it is a
three mega-ton nuclear device versus a one mega-ton nuclear
device? What will you do if it is any kind of nuclear device that
We have very poor plans for responding to a nuclear device because my
office is downtown and we’ll be dead. This other things we do is
add “attack” in as if it is somehow more important than the effects of a
tornado and mathematically it is not. The reason we add “attack”
in there is because it is scarier than a tornado to most people.
DHS also rates the risk by adding the probability of attack on a
potential target, particularly critical infrastructure targets, to the
loss of that target. What that means is a target with high
consequences if it is lost but zero probability of ever being attacked
gets actually more valuable when DHS rates it than something that has a
slightly lower consequence but that you know is going to be attacked.
If you take away the word “attack” and say “hit” by the bad
thing—tornado, tsunami, hurricane, terrorists—just group them all
together, you have something that has high consequence extremely low
probability being ranked higher than something that is moderate
consequence and one hundred percent probability. We neglect the
There is even software out there that will do this for you. One of
the more common ones—I won’t mention what brand it is—we were using for
awhile in our urban area until we noticed that the elementary schools
were coming out ranked as high as the nuclear power plants were.
That’s insane. We decided to go away from that and looked a little
at relative risk and probability as something that we can do.
The third factor that flies into that is the theory that people worry
about what is sexy. People are far more worried about a bomb going
off at a sporting event than they are a tornado hitting that same
event. We set up things like bag screeners and people in yellow
coats who are going to pat you down as you go to your college football
game but what is the evacuation plan from that stadium if it were hit by
a tornado? Which one is actually more likely to occur?
I would argue if someone throws a hand grenade into a stadium of a
hundred thousand people you are going to cause some serious
injuries. If a tornado hits that stadium you are going to have a
lot more impact. Yet we spend a lot of money securing it against a
terrorist attack and not so much about tornados.
What have we done here? The first thing we did was assessed if we
need what we are going to buy. We looked at command post trucks
and the PAPR—do we need them or not? Can we identify what it is we
want in advance? In other words if we are going to ask for
something we have to figure out what we are going to do with it before
we spend it.
The biggest thing for me is—will we use what we get? We try really
hard and my one piece of advice out of all of this is that you should
also leverage every penny you get by using those items. Buying
something that will only be used in the unlikely event of a terrorist
attack or that can only be used to prevent the unlikely event of a
terrorist attack to me is a waste of the taxpayer money.
You need to use something that can be used on a regular basis. I
do not do not do not mean the usual and customary equipment that your
first responders rely on to do day-to-day. That is your local
responsibility in my personal and professional opinion. Buying the
boots for your regular firefighters or their regular SCBAs—we won’t use
our grant money for that because that is the cost of doing business for
the fire department.
We won’t buy some of the routine stuff for our law enforcement, public
works or public health. There has to be some disaster and
terrorism nexus and the law says there has to be a terrorist nexus as
well. We do comply with the letter of the law as well as the
We follow what is referred to in risk as enterprise risk management and
that is the discipline in which you assess and control for and exploit
and finance and monitor risk from all sources. The idea here is
your purpose is to increase your short term and long term
viability. You are looking at preventing bad things from
happening, mitigating against those bad things and being able to recover
from those bad things.
If you can do those three major tasks with anything you buy whether it
is a piece of equipment or whether it is some kind of training you can
send people to—that is where we want to spend our money in our urban
Can you justify it? Can you answer Senator Coburn? We talked
about the Bearcat and tying it to homicide rates. When we
purchased a Bearcat, and we did, our local law enforcement people had to
justify everything. They had to figure out how they were going to
pay for it going forward. We had to take a look at—do we really
use these sorts of things? Are we requesting them? As it was they
were using a Bearcat. The problem was the response time was a
little over an hour for it to get here and that was after it was
called. That was sometimes two hours after the event starts.
Now there is just one in our county we can use in all our
municipalities. It is maintained by one of our local law
enforcement agencies. The agreement is out there in writing that it is
available to all our folks as soon as they need it and the response time
is down to tens of minutes—about fifteen to twenty minutes to the
farthest part of our county from the time the 911 call happens as
opposed to from the time someone decides they need a Bearcat.
We have cut a lot of our time out. I’m comfortable with having
made that purchase. I have to tell you if someone came to me and
wanted a second one or a bigger one the answer would be no. You
have to be ready to justify yourself. It’s not fair but it is
All our choices—everything we are going to do here is political.
The Senate is looking at it. The House is looking at it. And the media
are looking at it. Let’s face it—they don’t like government.
The idea is that if you can pass blame to someone, blame the government
and I’m kind of tired of it. I want to be able to get up in front
of our local television station and say, “yea I bought that”, and not
be worried about it.
The next question we ask is if there is really an ideal level of
preparedness? FEMA keeps talking about capabilities and
capacities, but what are we trying to reach? What is the role of
our state and federal government as it involves us at the local
level? I’m not sure we always look at that objectively.
Sometimes we decide the feds will pay for it so we’ll do it that
way. Again my view is real simple. Local emergency
management’s first and most important role is to deal with our local
community—the people who pay us directly. If we can build a
resilient local agency then I can go out and help the agencies near me.
If we are resilient in my little region of Minnesota I can then send my
staff out to help in other places. As a result two years ago when
Minneapolis was hit by the tornado I ended up as the planning chief in
their recovery branch for two weeks. My county was able to let me
go to Minneapolis for two weeks and work with them because we had a
resilient agency back here.
After Hurricane Sandy one of my staff members ended up working in the
finance section for the state of New York for a couple of weeks over the
Thanksgiving weekend so that we could help them out. The only way
we could help New York was to make sure we were able to take care of
themselves here because that is what my taxpayers are telling me they
If every single community in the United States—if all 3,000 counties in
the U.S. and all the big cities—were able to take care of themselves to
the point where they are relatively safe then they can send help out
when those catastrophic things happen. To me that is the purpose
of these federal grants—to help locals fill a national role.
The final thing in thinking about that is we have to figure out what
risk is based on either ‘maximum of maximums’ or in my case we use
‘maximum of probable (or practical) maximums’. We do it a little
differently than Administrator Fugate asks. We look at the real
risks that Ramsey County faces. I have absolutely no hurricane
I do have plans in place to help shelter people from hurricane affected
areas. We look at what our current capability is, not so much the
capacity. It is not so much what toys do I own but rather what I
can do with things I can either get or what I have on hand. We are
willing to try to prove it.
I am a big believer in the THIRA process. I think THIRA is the one
good thing the feds have done to us with the exception of the fact that
they treat threat and hazard separately. If you take a risk class
you’ll find that threat and hazard, those two words, mean the same
thing. We have decided in the United States that we have to tie
terrorism as a separate event.
Here in Ramsey County I don’t tie it as a separate event. I look
at things we can leverage and personally I think that is the right way
to do it.
The short answer is that I can answer Senator Coburn. We have a
state that is very involved in EMAC program. We have sent a lot of
people out there. There are D-MORTs and D-MATs and we have people
in my county who are a part of all of those. We have a state we
have been able to work with to the point where they will vet any
training request we have. We meet the letter of the law and also the
spirit of the law. We are developing in-state training
capabilities and regionalized special teams to make the money go
Everything we buy has to be deployable elsewhere. We have been
doing that all the time and now it is going to be basically a rule for
all grant stuff. It has to be something we can send somewhere else
or training to support our ability to send someplace else.
It has to be able to be used. When we have people who request
things from us out of a grant or project they proposed, we have to
justify all of this up front. They have to tell us how they are
going to meet that deployability, the fact that it is not duplicating
something that is already out there and that it is going to get used.
Since we can’t change federal law, what can we do now? We can hope
the federal laws will change but the first thing is we emergency
managers can control how we are perceived, at least in part, by being
able to justify what we do up front and not doing things that really
should be apparently stupid.
I am sorry. I hope no one here is the person who bought the fish
tank. I can’t understand what you were thinking if you are.
One of the states, you may remember, bought a snow cone machine.
They had a great justification written down but somebody should have
looked at thing politically and said it would never fly.
We have to keep in mind that emergency management is a program and not a
department. That is a huge deal. That is the reason I am
involved in the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. I was
fortunate enough to be appointed as a commissioner. I highly
recommend that standard. It is the Emergency Management
Standard. It is approved by ANSI so it is a nationally and
internationally recognized thing that is out there. It has fifteen
separate things that if you do one each year for fifteen years you are
making progress. You can actually measure it. It is actually
It stresses equal capability, not just what you own but equal
capabilities across your entire jurisdiction. It is not dependent
on what you as the emergency manager own or police chief may own, it is
what your entire community can do. Even if you can’t afford to go
through the accreditation process—and here I am a commissioner and I
can’t afford time or money to go through the full accreditation process,
but we are using the standard day to day as our personal center of how
we are doing business around here and it works really well.
If you meet that standard it will help you comply but if you are
complying with the federal and local standards or requirements the DHS
or local state puts on you that is another metric you can meet. If
you do your THIRA, identify those gaps and address those gaps, you can
show metrics right there.
The other thing we have chosen to do is try an identify how our
capabilities apply across our entire county so that if we have something
the north side of the county can respond to and the south can’t and the
response time is too long for some reason, those are the kinds of
things we address.
Don’t forget to take a look at the economics and social vulnerabilities
in your community. Those are things you can sometimes influence
with very little money and leverage that money going across.
The key in my world is to build national capability, and again we talked about that, by building local resilience.
We tend to concentrate on these things first—training and education for
our responders, our public works and all the ten disciplines that FEMA
talks about. That is our biggest bang for the buck as far as I am
concerned. That is where most of our grant money goes—training,
education and exercise. Those are the big things.
The second thing is that even though the grants allow us to cover OT and
backfill for these classes, we don’t do that. It makes our local
agencies have some skin in the game. We will only pay the costs
associated with overtime at exercises because of union requirements and
things like that—sometimes otherwise it is impossible to get the police
there because they are on overtime.
Other than that if they are going to go to training, observe an
exercise, go to a conference or anything like that then the local agency
has to pick up their own personnel’s cost. We’ll cover travel,
tuition, room and board if it’s away—obviously we stress very much doing
stuff in-state because it is cheaper.
We cross use everything. We leverage every penny we have. Most
importantly nothing stays in the box. If they are not going to use
it tomorrow I will not buy it with a grant today.
I talked about how we reused equipment so I’ll skip that since we are short on time.
[Slide 27, 28]
Local capacity building is the big thing. We have that role in the
national enterprise of Homeland Security and Emergency
Management. We have to learn as locals to share capabilities
across the border. The days of being able to buy everything
ourselves are gone. They have been gone for awhile now and we need
to recognize that.
Buying fifty Bearcats or the same thing in every county in your region
isn’t making any sense. We have to remember that the small dogs
out there need tools too. As I said, Minnesota is a sending state
for EMAC. During Katrina, Sandy and other events Minnesotans and
other states spent weeks and months in these areas helping them out
because the big dogs were exhausted.
If Minnesota didn’t have the funding in place to train to that national
level, to form an all-hazards management team and get people trained in
the right procedures there is no way we could help them out and they
would be worse off. We have to convince the federal government
that the small dogs need to be funded.
Just because Al-Qaeda may not target your city it doesn’t mean you will
not be sending help to a city that was targeted. When the main
targets are hit it is us who send the help. Everyone does not need
to have the same capacity in order to achieve capability. You
have to look beyond your own agency.
This is the role of your emergency management agency. The agency
has to concentrate on building a preparedness program in their
jurisdiction, not just building your own department.
It’s not about the toys. It can’t be anymore. It can’t be
about who owns what. We have to take a look at justifying what we
do. We have to be able to stand up in front of the news, to answer
Senator Coburn, to be willing to take part in something like the
National Association of Counties or the Council of Mayors and get
involved. Politics is a huge part of what we do.
If you are not talking to your elected officials or if you are not
willing to talk to your elected officials, reconsider. National
resilience is going to rely on local resilience and local resilience is
going to require honest assessment of your needs and capabilities, not
just a scramble for whatever money we can get. That is a big thing.
Those are my opinions. Some of this is based on scientific fact
and a lot of it is based on having done this for awhile and coming out
with something that works for my county. I understand it doesn’t
work for everyone’s county or everyone’s city. I can only tell you
what seems to work in Ramsey and what I personally believe.
If you have questions I am very happy to answer them. If not I
certainly understand—at the bottom you see my email address. I
love getting emails and I am happy to answer anything that is remotely
polite. I’ll turn it back to you and any questions folks may have.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Judd. We sure do appreciate it. We will move to the Q&A portion.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Amy Sebring: One thing that has always struck me about
the National Preparedness Goal is it doesn’t seem to articulate a vision
or maybe a ten-year goal or steps to meeting that goal. I
wondered if you had thoughts on that?
Judson Freed: Apologies to the administration but I
believe it is a poorly conceived document and a poorly conceived
concept. The entire nation isn’t the same so national preparedness
goals should reflect that and they tend not to. They were driven
by terrorism. If you look at the letters of some of the laws that
govern the grants out there, they are tied to Al-Qaeda based
international terrorism specifically.
Home-grown terrorism doesn’t count—the Animal Liberation Front or Earth
Liberation Front doesn’t count. While working at the university I
was personally attacked by the ELF. They tried to burn my
car. That wouldn’t count. That is what drove me to the
concept to try to leverage this money for the maximum of practical
maximums. If I can use something to deal with how we are going to
cope with the Animal Liberation Front setting a fire bomb off, I can use
that exact same capability to deal with Al-Qaeda setting off a fire
They meet the same goals. My hostage negotiator’s skills are going
to be the same if the person on the other side is a deranged individual
having a bad day or if they are holding hostages for some political or
I am a huge believe in all-hazards. I’ve been doing this for
twenty-six years and I remember the days when we would change. At
one point it was all civil defense and then after Bhopal it was all
hazardous materials, and then it was all-hazards and now we seem to be
turning back and trying to specialize.
New York City Fire Department was effective after 9/11 not because they a
plan for how to deal with Al-Qaeda striking a building but because they
had a plan for what would happen if the command staff was down.
They lost most of their command staff but they still put out fires in
the Bronx. That came from all-hazards preparedness. They
weren’t as good then as they are now.
Avagene Moore: How difficult was it to get all the
jurisdictions to go and adopt 1 county plan? I find that
amazing. By jurisdictions I mean the autonomous cities.
Judson Freed: We had to talk to them first. It wasn’t
something where I could come by and say we were doing this no matter
what because we are the big bad county. That would not have
worked. We have the same political differences everybody else has
What it ended up being was simply pointing out the realities that post
9/11 there were more requirements coming down on emergency
management. Minnesota has some specific laws. I assume all
other states have specific laws and requirements for emergency managers
to do. We were doing them nineteen times and it made no sense.
There was not enough money to pay for it.
My local emergency managers’ day-to-day compliance stuff was made
easier. We lessened their work load without increasing their tax
burden. Once we were able to demonstrate that we had one hundred
percent of our communities—except for the city of Saint Paul—it is a
city of the First Class and they aren’t a part of that. We coordinate
plans with them but they are a city of First Class and they are a
My communities are mostly in the 30,000 to 50,000 person range and I
have some down in the five or ten thousand so they are relatively large
suburban communities. When we confronted them with you have to do
all these things and we have to do all those things and validate that
you did them all for almost no money, they were willing to let us do the
work. It actually worked a lot easier than I would have expected.
Amy Sebring: Did you find that taking that approached
helped bring to light some erroneous planning assumptions and you were
able to get on board together with what the actual planning assumptions
Judson Freed: Absolutely. One of the things we noticed going
on around us in one of our counties (I won’t mention them because I
haven’t talked to them and told them I would mention them) but they are
larger than we are geographically and because of that geographic thing
one plan doesn’t fit their entire county.
They divided their county into planning regions. They have two or
three plans total. That is much easier to coordinate and easier to
solve those erroneous planning processes. When we meet—I meet
monthly with all our municipal emergency managers and the city of Saint
Paul. We all meet together and we discuss things of import.
They pick up the phone and call me or tell me that this isn’t working or
when we exercise, and we try to solve it together. It also forms a
great basis for a local emergency planning committee which meets
another rule and law as well. You have emergency managers from
multiple disciplines who are really interested in what you do.
Amy Sebring: I do remember your area got kudos in that collapse. It was obvious that the training paid off when the bridge collapsed.
Judson Freed: It is not that everything is perfect.
There is stuff and political fallout as there always will be. It
was a whole lot better than anybody thought it would have gone. We
had that thing under control pretty quick and we coordinated hundreds
of entities all at once. It was an interstate highway falling into
a federal waterway at rush hour in a giant city. It was all of those
things going on at once with some real political stuff going on the
sides and it all worked out.
Amy Crabill: Great presentation! Is it better to rely on
continued federal funding of our programs (on avg. 30% by EMPG of EM
budgets), DHS funds, and 75% of declared disaster funds, or begin to
build locally sustainable programs by making difficult local choices?
Judson Freed: If you want a job, yes. We have to.
The federal money is going to go away. The economic situation in
the United States is tough. Most of us, myself included, are grant
depended. This is a “do as I say not as I do” moment. My
budget right now, my local budget, is only about sixty percent levy
funded and about forty percent grant funded.
We are trying hard in this upcoming budget yet—my county has agreed—I
have one full-time employee who is completely grant funded. She is
coming off the grant and onto the levy. Even at a time where we
don’t have much money, but they bought into the idea—it took me ten
years to get here—having the capability that she offers to us—she is my
exercise, training and compliance officer.
She does all three of those jobs and she is an emergency manager and she
also fills one of our duty officer slots. They have decided that
it is worth that money per year from the local coffers to make sure we
can do those functions. It is not an easy thing to do but I one
hundred percent believe we need to use the grants to build—if it is
federal money it should meet a national goal.
If they want us to meet a national goal there needs to be federal
money. I’m a big believer in the Constitution and in the intent of
that. My local taxpayers want me to take care of them first and
then meet the national need secondly.
Michael Farinacci: Have you seen problems with government
agencies partnering with private industry. For instance a
government unit using or trying to acquire an agreement to use private
facilities in the event that an alternate facility is needed during an
Judson Freed: Our county just went out and did the
integrated emergency management course at EMI and we brought private
sector representatives with us because they do have a lot of things we
don’t have. Getting memoranda of understanding with them is a
legal issue that can be problematic.
One thing I noted in the Secretary’s proposed National Preparedness
Grant program that Congress slapped down yesterday—the Secretary had
proposed expanding the definition of local government to include private
sector people and I’m absolutely against that concept but am for
involving the private sector We have some very large companies in this
nation that provide a lot of things and can get them to us better than
They are better at this stuff than we are. Working with those
companies—you can guess who they are—but working with those companies is
a critical thing. There is an organization in Minnesota that has
physical seats in our state EOC and we have physical seats in our county
EOC for that organization to have a representative as well.
Amy Sebring: Do you have MOUs or MOAs with any private sector for resources?
Judson Freed: We have them at the county attorney’s
office as we speak. That is what I was doing before I called in—I
was working on those with the county attorney. The answer is
no. We have agreements in principle and letters of intent, that
kind of stuff, but we don’t have the actual physical MOU and we won’t
that. So do our private sector partners so stay tuned—we are on
the last thing. They should be ready shortly and we are trying to
get them signed.
Amy Sebring: I want to come back to the maximum of
maximums. Do you feel there may be a little shifting in regards to
the feds shifting nuclear response down to us?
Judson Freed: I hate to single out the nuclear bomb—that
is just the one I chose. The adage that all disasters are local is
true one hundred percent of the time. The recovery after the feds
go away is still ours. In Minneapolis they are still recovering
from a storm two years ago. Moore, Oklahoma is going to be
recovering from that storm for a decade.
The feds will go away and it will still be on us. There has to be
some look at how we as the locals are going to take care of our own
people and our own businesses that support our tax base. Where I
have problems with the National Preparedness Goals is they are too
There is just too much to them. They could be broadened
somewhat. The all-hazards approach method is the best way to do
it. It has been working. Because there were some problems
they threw the program out and now you are starting to have specific
annexes to response to this versus that again.
I think that is a bad choice. I have been fortunate enough through
NACO to have the ability to voice that to DHS. I urge all of you
who are local managers to get involved in state government and national
organizations where you can have a say of what goes on. I’m a big
fan of Administrator Fugate. I think he has been one of our better
administrators and I’ve been privileged to know him for a few years
I am able to talk to him and some of his assistant secretaries and tell
him my opinion. They actually do listen. They sometimes
ignore you but they do listen. I’m nothing special. I’m an
emergency manager in a small Midwestern county. It has a lot of
people in it but we are fly-over territory and I have had the
opportunity to testify before Congress. It’s not because I am
brilliant or wonderful but because I was willing to open my mouth and
say something. Now I have phone numbers for people. I can
call assistant secretaries. It is not because I’m special.
It is because I talk to them and they found out I have real concerns and
they are willing to talk.
Amy Sebring: About a year ago DHS as part of the
President’s budget proposal had floated an integrated approach to the
grant program. You mentioned it was shot down again
yesterday. Could you give us the pros and cons of that approach?
Judson Freed: The pros of block granting is that there
isn’t as much money as there used to be and we as locals are going to
have to recognize that and make the hard choices. The cons
were—and I’m coming from being a local government person and not a state
person so there will be others who will disagree—the cons were it took
all the programs and put them into one block grant.
For anyone who has ever seen block grants before they are referred to as
“block and chops” because once you make the block grant it is very easy
to cut them. It gave all the authority to the state
administrative agency to make the decisions for what would be needed at
the local level and it neglected sustainment of concepts that were
already in place. We spent thirty-nine billion dollars. We
can’t just walk away from them. You have to think of a better way.
I do think that sixteen separate grant programs plus the Fire Act Grant
program plus the Emergency Management Performance Grant program is
probably overkill. A number of other organizations are working on
alternate concepts. The first thing is the Emergency Management
Performance is critical, I think, to national resilience.
That grant should be continued as a separate grant program
forever. It is what allows local emergency management agencies to
help other agencies. I think we have to get better at the local
level of not relying on that grant for our major funding—thirty and
forty percent of our operational budgets—but that grant has to be
protected and kept the same.
Congress is doing that. Even the National Preparedness Grant
program didn’t take that away. There is value to things like the
Urban Area Grant to address the highest risk for terrorism cities with
specific spending to help them deal with terrorists. There is
benefit to taking some grants that are duplicative and combining them so
you get down to one or two applications.
The NPGP as proposed by the Secretary was designed with inadequate input
from local government and that was its major problem. They need
to talk to cities, counties and first responder organizations and we
need to put together a joint method of addressing the dwindling funds
and what the intent of those dwindling funds would be.
On our end, the local government end, we need to be able to show
progress. I highly recommend our EMAC standard. That
document can help you show progress. It is a metric. It is
something you can actually show them even if you don’t go through the
whole process. If we do that and we stop spending money on silly things
and start spending money on things we can justify to the media in terms
they understand and propose something that makes a little more sense and
save some money across the board I think we can build something really
The problem is when we have states against the locals against the cities—that is where our problems come from.
Amy Sebring: On behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our
participants today, thank you very much Judd for joining us today and it
was very worthwhile, and sharing your ideas with us. You
certainly have given us some food for thought, and we wish you the best
in your future endeavors.
Our next program is scheduled for June 12th when instructor August
Vernon returns to focus on responding to incidents involving improvised
or homemade explosive devices. Please make plans to join us then.
Thanks to everyone for participating today and have a wonderful afternoon! We are adjourned.