Why Emergency Management Law?
For our first post I decided that we should really answer the question: “Why concern ourselves with the Emergency Management Law?” Won’t everyone just understand that it’s an emergency and everyone will just give us a “bye”? Well, the answer is no, no one will really just give you a “bye” because there was an emergency. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and there are plenty of people that would be happy to sue because they were injured from the government’s failure to plan or prepare properly for the emergency.
It’s relatively obvious that since law (i.e. Texas Disaster Act of 1975, National Response Framework, ect.) developed formal Emergency Management into what it is today, the profession frankly can’t exist without having at least a working relationship with it. However, as Professor William Nicholson has identified, the relationship between Emergency Managers and Attorneys in the United States is one often characterized as “mutual ignorance.”(1) Just knowing statutes isn’t enough though. As counsel can readily point out, though we have statutes as a guide, the precedent that relevant case law is just as important to understanding what Emergency Management can and cannot do.
For example, Texas statute allows for “reasonable force” to be used to make people who remain in an evacuated area to leave, but what is “reasonable force”? (2) That, opens a whole new line of questions and answers that honestly, Emergency Managers aren’t expected to know. Police may have a very good idea of what is “reasonable force”. But does the “reasonable force” during an evacuation differ from every day police “reasonable force”? Why beat around the bush, just ask an Attorney! These are things that could expose city, county and state governments to exorbitant amounts of civil, and possibly criminal, liability and litigation costing the taxpayers a lot of their tax dollars. When Emergency Managers and Attorneys establish a healthy working relationship, these issues can be avoided altogether.
The whole goal of Emergency Management Law.com is to exchange information and ideas about how Emergency Managers and Attorneys can best work together to plan for emergencies, reduce risk, and improve the safety of our communities throughout the United States.
(1) William Charles Nicholson, Emergency Management and Law, 2014.
(2) Tex. Gov’t Code Ann. § 418.185(b) (West 2014).