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Role of the Police in Evacuations: Responding to the Social Impact of a Disaster

NCJ Number
Police Quarterly Volume: 15 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2012 Pages: 137-156
Luke Bonkiewicz; R. Barry Ruback
Date Published
June 2012
20 pages
This study examined how police and citizens interact during disaster evacuations.
Disaster evacuations are stressful events in which citizens and law enforcement frequently interact with each other. Most emergency response plans are based on military strategies that operate independent of the general public, but the authors argue that the police must be cognizant of several social psychological factors that affect citizens' behavior during evacuations, including risk perception, social networks, and access to resources. Drawing from social psychological, criminal justice, and disaster research, the authors propose a model that (a) describes how citizens' priorities and behaviors change as a disaster evolves and (b) identifies policing strategies that accommodate these changing behaviors and facilitate a successful evacuation. The model, embedded in how people behave and what police are taught, can increase citizen compliance with law enforcement during disaster evacuations, remove more citizens from harm, save lives, and improve the relationship between communities and the police. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.