U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Cross-National Comparison of Interagency Coordination Between Law Enforcement and Public Health

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2005
181 pages
In examining the cooperative roles of law enforcement and public health in responding to terrorist threats in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland, the primary goal of this study was to develop promising practices for U.S. agencies in interagency planning and response to terrorist threats and other public health emergencies.
Common barriers to interagency coordination were found to be a lack of mechanisms for sharing confidential data; weak Federal guidance on interagency coordination; insufficient clarity about chain of command among Federal, State, and local responders; legal barriers; different agency structures; and the absence of a common vocabulary to facilitate efficient and clear communication. Promising approaches include assignment of law enforcement and public health personnel to one another's agencies to facilitate communication and onsite consultation, the joint release of communications to the news media, the development of ongoing formal and informal relationships in routine operations, joint training, and the early involvement of all stakeholder agencies in developing response strategies and procedures. This study reviewed the Surveillance System Inventory (SSI), a database that documents and describes public health and public safety surveillance systems in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland. The SSI summarizes the status of coordination between law enforcement and public health agencies across these systems and highlights potentially useful systems for coordination and dual-use integration. Researchers also interviewed representatives of law enforcement, public health, and homeland security regarding the nature and status of interagency coordination in each country. An international panel of experts critiqued study findings and assessed the application of lessons learned in the three other countries to problems in the United States. 11 exhibits, 38 references, and appended methodological details

Date Published: August 1, 2005