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Resilience policing and climate change: Adaptive responses to hydrological emergencies

This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Taylor & Francis in The Routledge Handbook of ‘Policing within a Crisis’ (Eds. Gary Cordner & Martin Wight), forthcoming. Peer reviewed. Accepted for publication on 29 March 2022.

Published onMay 11, 2022
Resilience policing and climate change: Adaptive responses to hydrological emergencies


This chapter sets out to consider the role of police when it comes to managing the human security impacts of acute natural disaster events which are expected to occur more frequently due to climate change. To this effect, it sets out to conceptualise traditional governmental policing actors as part of wider emergency management webs which work to promote resilience in anticipation of, and in response to, these crises. Noting the relative scarcity of empirical research on policing during natural disasters, we examine this phenomenon in relation to two key examples (Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey) which illustrate the need for traditional policing actors to develop capabilities which enable them to anticipate and respond to non-traditional security threats. This was particularly evident during Hurricane Katrina where marginalised communities found themselves ‘over policed and under protected’ by a combination of public and private policing actors. Years later, the police response to Hurricane Harvey illustrates that even relatively well-prepared police organisations which have taken significant steps to improve their adaptive capabilities may continue to rely on traditional policing mentalities and activities which are of questionable utility when it comes to promoting community safety in the context of environmental crises. Accordingly, the chapter concludes by examining a framework for ‘resilience policing’ proposed by (Mutongwizo, Holley, Shearing, & Simpson, 2021) and considers its potential utility and limitations for enhancing the governance and delivery of security in anticipation of the growing frequency and severity of natural disaster events.

Keywords: resilience policing, adaptation, natural disasters, emergency management, climate change


The role of police as emergency management actors remains a relatively neglected aspect within the wider policing literature (Hine & Bragias, 2021), much of which is focused on law enforcement, crime prevention, and order maintenance (see Newburn, Jones and Reiner 2017). However, over the past two decades, high profile natural disaster events and growing international concern about climate change have prompted interest amongst researchers in how police do, and might, contribute to the work of preparing for, responding to, and recovering from natural disasters – work that the term ‘resilience’ signifies. Whereas previous empirical studies have focused on policing during acute crisis events, recent conceptual work sets out to consider how policing might be impacted by the onset of chronic and pervasive environmental risks associated with the onset of the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch (Harrington and Shearing 2017).

This chapter presents a narrative review of both the empirical literature on policing during natural disasters and the emerging literature on policing and climate change. The review of the empirical literature focuses specifically on two high profile examples of police involvement with disaster response efforts, namely Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey. These examples illustrate how police and policing activities may either serve to mitigate or exacerbate the human security impacts of acute natural disasters. Hurricane Katrina highlights lack of preparedness and how this contributed to differential and harmful policing outcomes which disproportionately affected the most vulnerable communities. Hurricane Harvey illustrates how police organisations in the United States have subsequently adapted their emergency management strategies and capabilities, but that they also continue to rely on traditional policing mentalities and activities when it comes to delivering community safety during these crises. Both examples and the wider literature on emergency management policing illustrate the need for police organisations to develop models and strategies which will enable them to adapt to these conditions in the face of climate related harms. The chapter concludes by reflecting on some of the unique challenges that the Anthropocene as a new ‘harmscape’ (Berg and Shearing 2018) poses for police organisations, and how a framework for 'resilience policing' proposed by (Mutongwizo et al., 2021) may help support innovation and adaptation in this context.

Policing during natural disasters

The term ‘resilience’ bourgeoned since the establishment of the US Department of Homeland Security’s publication of its National Strategy for Homeland Security in 2002 (Security, 2002). The 2007 revised National Strategy, moves on to include ideas of resilience of ‘critical infrastructures’ and the ‘operational resilience’ of emergency response organisations, government institutions, and private enterprise in the face of crisis. Since then, the concept has become ubiquitous in operational strategies for emergency preparedness, crisis response, and national security (Walker & Cooper, 2011). While the appeal of the resilience concept to police was initially limited to concerns about the resilience of police officers and organisational responses to occupational stresses (Paton, 2006), the concept is starting to take on new meaning as police organisations find themselves confronted with the demands of shifting harmscapes, including climate change (Chambers, 2011). However, the role of the police in responding to natural disasters as a node within emergency management webs remains under explored. During disasters these webs are made up of a wide variety of nodes that include fire and rescue services, ambulances, government emergency services, medical services, specialist crews, defence forces, and other government and non-government agencies (Australian Government, 2020). It can be particularly challenging for the police to collaborate effectively with personnel who they may not encounter regularly in the course of ‘normal’, crime-focused police work (Bonkiewicz & Ruback, 2012). It must also be noted that the difficulty of communication with a vast array of personnel and agencies is compounded by officers likely having no prior experience and limited training when it comes to responding to natural disasters (Rojek & Smith, 2007). Emergency management policing may therefore require police officers to perform roles that are distinct from their typical, day-to-day duties.

There has been very little attention paid within the policing literature to the role of police in disaster events (Hine & Bragias, 2021; Varano & Schafer, 2012). Studies that have examined policing during natural disaster events note substantial problems associated with responses to natural and man-made disasters related to communication and coordination among first responders, barriers that Varano & Schafer (2012) argue are best understood as cultural and not technical in nature. Major crises require different skills and approaches of police in controlling and managing successful outcomes and effective communication (Hine & Bragias, 2021).

Historically, the challenges police have faced when it comes to responding to natural disasters was perhaps most evident during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. These events highlighted that the police and other public safety community agencies were underprepared for responding to large scale disasters and these experiences raised serious concerns about the capacity of the police and other government and community agencies to effectively respond to future disaster events (Varano & Schafer, 2012). Thus, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, researchers started to take an interest in the role of police in disaster events (Decker, Varano, & Greene, 2007; Deflem & Sutphin, 2009; Harrald, 2006; Rojek & Smith, 2007). Many of these studies recognise that for disasters to be handled appropriately, there is the need for pre-disaster planning by police that focuses on the creation of social capital and building community resilience. This is in addition to ensuring that police organisations are prepared to contribute to emergency management functions such as managing evacuations and order maintenance (i.e. ensuring the protection of persons, property, and critical infrastructure during periods of instability). As such, the literature highlights a need for police agencies to shift their mentality away from relying on strictly defined and detailed policies, protocols and procedures to manage every possible incident towards harnessing the capabilities of integrated response strategies involving partnerships with other emergency responders, the community, and other stakeholders who might play a role in incident recovery (Varano & Schafer, 2012).

The following section presents a more detailed account of policing during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to illustrate how an inappropriate and inadequate policing response to a natural disaster may serve to exacerbate the human security impacts of an environmental crisis. This is followed by a discussion of Hurricane Harvey (2017) in Houston where the policing response appeared to be much more effective from a coordination and communication standpoint. Harvey also illustrates a case where a police organisation seemingly embraced its emergency management function and adopted a broader conception of resilience work into its efforts to support disaster preparedness, response and recovery. At the same time, subsequent social media messaging from Houston Police Department (HPD) leaders suggests that traditional, crime-focused policing mentalities remain an important element of the city’s emergency management policing strategy in this context.

Hurricane Katrina

On August 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina swept into Louisiana and New Orleans, a city built largely on land reclaimed from swamp, it witnessed massive failures in its levees leading to the greatest urban and regional disaster in U.S. history. At the peak of the displacement, 273,000 people were in emergency temporary accommodation, and more than a month after the event over 83,000 were still in temporary or emergency accommodation (Olshansky, 2006). The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) had a detailed emergency plan, however, their after-action report acknowledged that officers were not clear on how to act when the disaster eventuated. NOPD officers were unfamiliar with the emergency plan, and despite its existence, they had not received adequate training for implementation of the plan in the event of such an emergency (Adams & Stewart, 2015). It further concluded that there was no central staging area for first responders or a method to quickly identify and set up perimeters and cordon off hazardous areas, and that officers were not provided with adequate training on the emergency plan. This was exacerbated by the failure of the recall system for staff which left many personnel either unable to report for duty, or refusing to respond (Mann & Williams, 2021). This led to extreme understaffing and those staff who were present could not properly attend to the emergency since the NOPD headquarters had been flooded, therefore a command centre was set up in the Hyatt Hotel. Additionally, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections opened a temporary jail in the Union Station depot. However, NOPD officers were unaware of these new developments. As a result of all the ensuing confusion and lack of coordination, the FBI eventually established a Law Enforcement Coordination Center (LECC) to organise and consolidate the NOPD and National Guard along with Federal and State law enforcement elements. Communication was fragmented since many field commanders and individual units acted as independent groups during the crisis (Mann & Williams, 2021). Due to poor communication, fragmentation, and lack of training, the NOPD was overwhelmed by the storm and flooding, and this overshadowed some of the officers’ often heroic actions of rescuing people from danger during the event. Local radio antennas were damaged, batteries for individual radios failed, and flood waters overtook police stations and patrol cars. As a consequence, the NOPD was left with inadequate supplies, transportation, or communication infrastructure (Sims, 2007).

For over three days New Orleans was without police radio communication or a 911 service (Mann & Williams, 2021) and a week after the storm’s arrival, New Orleans did not have electric power or other basic services (Colten, Kates, & Laska, 2008). Floodwaters disabled several generators, and this impacted the city’s hospitals. Medical staff continued to work without outside assistance until evacuations were arranged that hastily moved the patients to triage centres at the airport and beyond the city. Nursing homes suffered grave inadequacies in providing care and most hospitals closed for weeks or months after the storm. Additionally, medical supplies were inadequate for the extended crisis period and the city was left with scant medical care for the returning population (Colten et al., 2008).

The severe lack of communication owing to the collapse of infrastructure and processes led to challenges in the official reporting and recording of crime. As a result, self-report survey data is one of the few sources of systematic information on crime and violence in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Being short-staffed meant that the NOPD was unable to carry out basic policing functions, and was severely limited in its ability to render assistance to storm victims. Sims (2007) highlights that the lack of resources led to NOPD officers failing to attend to numerous residents needing help. Notwithstanding existing plans and exercises to prepare for events like Hurricane Katrina, the extreme conditions overwhelmed institutional responses at all levels. Confusion ensued as communication among emergency responders became erratic (Colten et al., 2008). An additional problem was created by unsubstantiated rumours of antisocial behaviour that began to circulate. And this led to the NOPD adopting a defensive stance which was not as appropriate for a natural disaster (Mann & Williams, 2021; Tierney & Bevc, 2007; Tierney, Bevc, & Kuligowski, 2006).

The extent of the disaster coupled with a failure to properly plan and execute plans were exhibited throughout several elements of the NOPD (Brezina & Kaufman, 2008). The communications and coordination breakdowns started with the loss of a centralised command structure across New Orleans’ city administration (Mann & Williams, 2021).

It is important to note that prior to Katrina, the NOPD was an organisation besieged by decades of underfunding, widespread corruption charges, and serious problems with the minority community (Deflem & Sutphin, 2009). This provides some insight into why the public police were unprepared and ill-equipped to manage the human security impacts of this crisis. This created a security deficit which was filled by other non-governmental security actors including private military contractors who were brought in to protect infrastructure and private property. The lack of communication and coordination between governmental and non-governmental actors led to greater levels of suffering during and following the disaster. While non-governmental actors attempted to assist victims, the lack of coordination with government agencies led to further confusion as the best use of the various capacities available was not controlled and coordinated appropriately (Brezina & Kaufman, 2008; Mann & Williams, 2021).

Following Katrina, a new emergency response plan was developed by the NOPD. This new response plan is said to have promoted better response activities during Hurricane Gustav (2008) (Adams & Stewart, 2015; McCarthy & Carr, 2008). The need for situational awareness, better communication and stronger links with the community and other non-governmental agencies were key lessons learnt highlighted in the emergency response plan. The role the media can play in perpetuating challenges or assisting in rescue operations, and better communication of official messages during disasters were key highlights of the response plan, fundamental lessons learnt from the difficulties experienced during Hurricane Katrina. Following Hurricane Katrina, other police departments and government agencies learned from this emergency response plan as well as from the challenges experiences by the NOPD. Next, the discussions of response to Hurricane Harvey will demonstrate some of the learnings for disaster management preparedness.

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 hurricane, hit Houston in August 2017 causing significant damage to over 300,000 buildings and structures and up to 500,000 cars; electricity outages for approximately 336,000 customers; 68 people killed by the storm; approximately 40,000 residents evacuated to temporary or emergency accommodation across Louisiana and Texas; and 30,000 water rescues (Blake & Zelinsky, 2018). The hurricane also caused pollution and damaged and disrupted critical infrastructure, particularly that relating to Texas’s oil and gas refineries which were forced to go offline for many days (Blake & Zelinsky, 2018). This was a major crisis event that generated significant challenges for police and their emergency management partners. However, thanks in part to the lessons learnt from Hurricane Katrina and other natural disaster events, police were in a better position to respond to this crisis.

Hurricane Harvey’s impact and damage inspired further exploration into the concept of resilience’s relevance to disaster responses, recovery and management across governmental, non-governmental, and private spheres. Furthermore, unlike Hurricane Katrina where communication was blurred and broken leading to further tragedies in the crisis, a study examining the Houston Police Department (HPD) public engagement efforts using Twitter during Hurricane Harvey shows how alternative lines of communication prevented further crisis. This study harvested over 13,000 tweets across three phases of the Hurricane Harvey event: preparedness, response and recovery. Both text and social network analysis (SNA) techniques were employed to analyse data. Based on this research, it was established that departmental tweets were mainly around topics of protocol, reassurance and community resilience. Additionally, governmental agency Twitter accounts such as municipalities, regional police and local fire departments, and the personal accounts of city’s police and fire chiefs were the most influential. As a result, Twitter was leveraged as a form of risk communication (Ericsson and Haggerty 1997) and 9-1-1 dispatch where the hurricane had affected usual lines of communication (Yang & Stewart, 2019). However, it must be mentioned that Twitter was established a year after Hurricane Katrina in 2006. Therefore, Twitter could not have been relied on as a method for disseminating information then as the platform was not yet in existence.

Some of the lessons learnt from Hurricane Katrina led to initiatives such as the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Program Network (100RC) which led to the City of Houston hiring a Chief Resilience Officer and conducting a city-wide resilience assessment (City of Houston, 2020). Compared to Katrina, Harvey enabled the emergence of innovative responses to natural disasters. Harvey also led to the emergence of innovative frameworks that reconfigured the city’s established disaster response systems for pre-disaster, during the disaster, and following the disaster. What led to this innovation was the realisation that traditional government-centred disaster response capacities needed support from non-governmental and private agencies to respond to disasters. It became clear that the government was not solely equipped to effectively respond to disasters. Much of this can be credited to lessons learnt from Hurricane Katrina as the failure of police and other government agencies there led to an awakening for future disaster response planning.

This led to yet another resilience plan by the City of Houston (City of Houston, 2020) and has led to various other groups and non-governmental organisations adopting the concept of resilience in their mandates. The City of Houston Disaster Recovery Information platform for example, and the Houston Partnership seek to meet the long-term infrastructure and resiliency needs of the greater Houston region. The Partnership is committed to working with local, state and federal officials to advocate for flood mitigation funding. Through the Infrastructure and Resiliency Advisory Committee, the Partnership is prioritising efforts intended to enhance coordination between government and business groups and support infrastructure resiliency needs of the region (HoustonRecovers, 2020).

Another initiative is the Center for Houston’s Future (CHF) that is dedicated to building coalitions to act on critical issues such as resilience, immigration, the energy transition, gaps and opportunities in our health care sector and more (Center for Houston’s Future, 2019). Additionally, Connective, exists to serve families who need help, and makes sure that the resources, tools for recovery, and plans for resilience are there when needed most (Connective, 2019). The Harris County Project Recovery aims to assist Harris County residents in restoring homes, damaged by floods experienced in 2015, 2016 and Hurricane Harvey, through a range of options including homeowner repair reimbursement, new home construction, homeowner buyout for flood mitigation, affordable rental, local infrastructure improvements, and new transit options.

The leadership of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, and the Chief of Houston Police Art Acevedo, were also commendable in dealing with the disaster. Their Twitter accounts were highly visible both during and after the hurricane. Scholars points out the importance of engaging key organizational and community leaders to facilitate disaster relief and improve community preparedness (Gamboa-Maldonado, Marshak, Sinclair, Montgomery, & Dyjack, 2012). The frequent mentions of public figures in government tweets helps create a sense of openness and personal connection on behalf of government organisations, which can be especially instrumental in building trust, gaining public cooperation, and managing post-disaster distress (Bruning & Ledingham, 1999; Liu, Lai, & Xu, 2018). Police adoption of emerging social media technologies increases their potential to engage the public in different ways and offers the real potential for bidirectional communication with various segments of the public that has limited (by choice or force) access to more traditional information outlets such as press conferences and the television or radio news. Analysis of police involvement with social media, for example, shows real promise for disaster situations (Mihunov, Lam, Zou, Wang, & Wang, 2020; Varano & Sarasin, 2014).

This insight is useful for encouraging emergency management agencies to consider adopting alternative platforms to improve communication in times of crisis. This is particularly important in crises such as Hurricane Katrina and Harvey that may leave formal lines of communication between the police or other agencies and the public compromised or impaired. The advances in technology build strong supplementary platforms for communication that may be relied on.

At the same time, it must be acknowledged that the HPD has also subsequently maintained a focus on its traditional policing functions, namely law enforcement, for managing the human security impacts of natural disaster. This is illustrated by Chief Acevedo’s Tweets about looting during Hurricane Harvey and subsequently during a major winter storm that hit Houston in February 2021.

‘Some people thought they'd loot and find themselves in jail thanks to the men and women of @houstonpolice.’ (@ArtAcevedo, 2017)

‘We are deploying plainclothes officers in unmarked vehicles across the city looking for anyone burglarizing residences or businesses during power outages. This is a natural disaster and penalty enhancements can lead to 20 year prison sentences. If you need help there are services.’ (@ArtAcevedo, 2021)

These Tweets are interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the focus on looting deviates from Acevedo’s dominant message during Hurricane Harvey which emphasised the role of police in assisting the community with preparedness, support and recovery efforts.1 Second, the 2021 Tweet attracted a backlash from some Twitter users who criticised the deployment of officers (as first responders) to protect private property rather than assist people in need. Some expressed fear at the idea of plain clothes officers being deployed in their communities while others who acknowledged the risk of looting also questioned the effectiveness of plain clothes officers as a deterrent. By contrast, the 2017 Tweet about looters appeared to generate widespread support from Acevedo’s online followers.

The enduring influence of traditional policing mentalities in the HPD (under the leadership of Acevedo who attempted to position himself as a reformer) suggests that even the most progressive police organisations face challenges when it comes to balancing emergency management and law enforcement functions during periods of crisis. As environmental crises like Harvey become more common and with longer lasting impacts, resilience work may become an integral aspect of everyday police work in many communities around the world and police must not only develop new frameworks for integrating these roles into their day-to-day activities, but consider how their emergency management capabilities are impacted by their law enforcement functions (and vice versa).

A resilience policing framework for responding to natural disasters

Reflecting on the need for policing to evolve in response to Anthropogenic risks and harms, Mutongwizo et al. (2021) have recently developed a framework for ‘resilience policing’ that may support enhanced climate adaptation by police. The fundamental idea is that in order for a community to be able to effectively cope with the security impacts of disasters, policing must be multi-pillared in ways that ensure ‘functional redundancy’ whereby the capacity of one species ‘compensates for the loss or incapacity of another’ (Johansson, Van De Leemput, Depczynski, Hoey, & Bellwood, 2013; Simpson, Shearing, & Dupont, 2020). Accordingly, the concept of ‘resilience policing’ is anchored in five important assumptions:

  1. there are new, uncertain harms;

  2. diverse policing capacities are needed to respond to these uncertain harms;

  3. police enroll other actors, for example, government and community resources to deal with these harms;

  4. police act as facilitators and enablers in community capacity-building; there is a mutual dependency between the police and community; and

  5. the outcome is that policing is done differently. The responsibility of policing is shared between the community and police. This leads to more anticipatory crime prevention and adaptation of all actors who are enmeshed in and dependent on each other for policing (Mutongwizo et al. 2021).

After reflecting on the resilience policing framework above, with the cases discussed in mind, it is evident that more empirical research is needed to improve this existing framework. However, the framework can be improved from what has been learnt from these two cases particularly in investigating how the police require higher levels of adaptation and decentralisation when faced with natural disasters. To move forward with this framework and how it engages with resilience in police work, the cases of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey have illustrated that the police require diverse capabilities beyond traditional policing. The cases and the existing model have demonstrated that resilience building needs to be viewed through a network lens as stated in points 4 and 5 of the framework, with functional redundancy being optimised where government actors cannot cope with uncertain harms such as natural disasters. The concept of resilience policing as highlighted in the framework, has been developed to help address some of the limitations of the traditional police-centric model of policing when dealing with various harms.

The cases discussed further demonstrate the need for adaptive management and governance (Allan & Stankey, 2009; Holling, 1973) when dealing with new threats. Comfort (1995, p. 137) points out that disaster creates a ‘symmetry-shattering event’ that both disrupts established patterns of thought and action and creates the opportunity to redesign an emergency response system that ‘fits’ the environment more effectively. Evidently, during Hurricane Harvey, private enterprises, community action groups and Twitter were relied on as supplementary to the government because of the adaptation required by circumstances (Miller & Goidel, 2009; Yang & Stewart, 2019). This has shown that the responsiveness of non-governmental actors enables a prompt response that, as noted from the two case studies, was unavailable to government actors.

The response to Hurricane Harvey and recovery efforts also show how non-governmental actors and individuals can pioneer innovative approaches to emergency storm relief. This corresponds to a re-organisation phase of activities within the adaptive cycle of social-ecological systems dynamics (Gunderson & Holling, 2002) described in resilience and social-ecological systems theory. At this stage, innovative responses, transformations, and the establishment of new system configurations and opportunities can occur (Moore et al., 2014; Olsson, Folke, & Hahn, 2004; Olsson, Galaz, & Boonstra, 2014). The examples exhibit that there are myriad ways in which those who are reacting to emergencies and disasters can structure future models or directives for governance arrangements of response. What is displayed here are examples of how novel forms and contours of governance emerge under unique conditions. The resilience policing framework encourages police to be engaged and central to the process as this will work towards linking resilience actions with adaptive governance for dealing with threats.

The emergence of various levels and forms of governance in response to these disasters demonstrates that the existence and working together by diverse actors. These actors have various resources and technologies presenting a shift from government-centred governance to decentralised networks. Dupont (2004) and Tierney (2012) identify this as “functional redundancy”, whereby opportunities emerged that enabled government agencies to work with a host of other security actors in response to emergencies and crises that they would have not been able to deal with had such nodal webs not materialised in the face of the crisis.

What needs to be taken into account for resilience policing to emerge and be of use to communities in times of disaster, is a reliable channel for dispelling rumours. Brezina and Kaufman (2008) stress the importance of the dissemination of accurate information to ensure a well-coordinated response to disaster. The discussion of Hurricane Katrina shows how unfortunately, rumours spreading about extreme chaos led to a serious delay in rescue efforts being directed where they were needed and affected the NOPD in their response efforts. It is essential that the police manage and control rumours by ensuring that media enquiries are directed to a public information officer who releases authorised information through media announcements and scheduled media briefings (Brezina & Kaufman, 2008). This can only be possible with careful coordination which may be affected when channels of communication fail as was seen in Hurricane Katrina. Therefore, it is important for networks within the community to be built and strengthened by the police prior to disasters.

Resilience policing has been developed as a framework for understanding adaptation and is linked to established community policing and third-party policing models. There is a need for future empirical work that explores if and how these transformations are taking place around the world. However, there are potential limitations of adopting a resilience lens for conceptualising policing. These include the public police being unlikely to want to formally cede any responsibility to other actors if it implies higher costs to their budgets to establish and maintain partnerships. Also, the concept has political uses and that what is done in the name of resilience may not necessarily be conducive to the common good (see Chandler 2014’s) discussion of the politics of resilience). Additionally, the call for community resilience building initiatives that emphasise greater responsibilisation of communities, non-governmental actors and agencies and individuals is seen as problematic by those who argue that this is used to reduce the obligation of governments to prepare and protect citizens in times of disaster (DeVerteuil & Golubchikov, 2016; MacKinnon & Derickson, 2013; Meerow & Newell, 2019; Walker & Cooper, 2011). It is beyond the scope of this chapter to resolve the question of how societies might best govern and deliver security for the public good during acute and chronic Anthropogenic crises, but this is an important area for future research which stands to advance influential, longstanding normative debates (e.g., Loader and Walker 2006).


As argued by various scholars, the broad definitional scope of resilience can present risks. However, when applied to a framework as presented, with specific aims for working with communities and agencies towards targeted aims, resilience can also represent an opportunity to build and bridge relationships across agencies. Resilience is certainly a useful concept that can be used to bring together a diverse set of individuals and agencies to prepare for, respond to and mitigate natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. What is needed is the platform for communication and an openness to adaptive approaches being taken as these would allow for improved collaboration, resource and information sharing and more effective governance arrangements for dealing with future events and disasters.

There is a need for future work on emergency management policing in the face of new and emerging threats. However, resilience is a contested concept. Scholars need to be mindful of the fact that resilience can be deployed in various ways which may not actually advance the public goods. In terms of moving forward, there may be lessons that can be learned in how the public safety apparatus responds to the potential threats associated with large-scale sporting events such as the Olympic Games and international political meetings. This may be a way of conceptualizing how police could better respond to disasters. While the comparison of police responses to large-scale planned events that have defined duration and relatively fixed geographical impact are far from a perfect comparison, there are important parallels (Varano & Schafer, 2012).

The discussions have pointed to resilience policing still being in the early stages of development as an emerging area. Currently, there is not much material, however, the case studies presented aimed to create a starting point through which it might be remedied. Resilience policing relates to wider phenomena such as adaptive governance, it this is a new concept that captures trends that are happening, but there is very limited available research. This leaves much scope to sketch out some future directions for empirical, practical, and normative research.


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