Homeland Security, Emergency Management and Public Safety

1.1  Preamble

Assuring the safety and security of citizens is one of the paramount duties of governors. With the constantly evolving threat of terrorism and increased occurrences of natural disasters, governors must maintain and continually update state strategies to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. Governors continually work to address many long-standing challenges related to public safety such as interagency information sharing, operational coordination and eliminating the root causes of criminal activity and recidivism. Protecting the public requires close coordination and unity of effort among all levels of government, as well as with the private sector. Leveraging resources, strengthening coordination and improving information exchange between federal and state authorities remain critical to addressing these challenges and meeting the homeland security and public safety needs of our states and the nation.

1.2 Preparedness and Response

Major emergencies require the leadership of governors to coordinate state and local resources and responses. Efforts to increase state readiness and resilience are critical to saving lives, protecting critical infrastructure, speeding up recovery and reducing costs.

1.2.1 Principles

  • National plans and strategies should be developed collaboratively between federal, state and local governments.
  • Any federal law requirements imposed upon the states should be properly funded.
  • Federal agencies should proactively work with state leaders to fully leverage state resources and authorities including fusion centers.
  • States should have maximum flexibility in how grant funds are utilized and funds should be coordinated through the state.
  • The federal government, in collaboration with states, should enhance pre-disaster planning efforts to secure critical infrastructure, transportation systems and food supply chains, including increased use of advanced technology.
  • Any change in the disaster aid program, including the Federal Stafford Act, should acknowledge current state investments in disaster management and mitigation; recognize different state needs and capabilities; mitigate administrative complexity and cost; and provide a process and time for collaboration and implementation.

1.3 Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform

Governors play a critical role in ensuring the security and public safety of the citizens they serve. They oversee executive public safety agencies such as state police and contribute to the judicial branch via gubernatorial appointments in nearly all states. Federal funding and flexibility for state public safety efforts are essential to meeting state objectives. Many governors have reformed their criminal justice systems by implementing smarter, fairer and more cost-effective policies. These efforts have included safely curbing prison population growth, strengthening support for victims of crime, addressing recidivism through improved supervision of individuals released from prison and adopting evidence-based and data-driven policies that promote public safety.

1.3.1 Principles

  • The federal government should fulfill its responsibility to support primary justice assistance grant programs for states.
  • The federal government should refrain from imposing penalties on the Justice Assistance Grant Program for state noncompliance with unrelated federal mandates.
  • As states engage in criminal justice reform efforts, the federal government should continue to provide states flexibility to establish and enforce policies that are consistent with its goals of reducing crime, incarceration and recidivism rates.
  • Federal initiatives should look to the states for best practices and as models of criminal justice reform, having achieved reform by reducing crime and corrections costs.
  • Ensure that future federal criminal justice grant program reauthorizations are developed in close coordination with governors, who are best positions to influence the relationship between law enforcement, the judicial branch, local governments and community stakeholders.

1.4 Public Safety Broadband Network

The nation has a unique opportunity to dramatically improve first responder communications by developing the nation’s first interoperable public safety broadband network. Governors support efforts to make this network a reality and provide the following principles to ensure the network is properly developed and constructed and meets the needs of public safety:

1.4.1 Principles

  • Give states maximum oversight and flexibility in the network’s build out and governance to ensure nationwide coverage and interoperability.
  • Ensure that states’ priorities and views are fully engaged and represented by the first responder network authority (FirstNet). Treating states as full partners meets the statutory requirements for state consultation and ensures that key information, processes and expertise within states can appropriately be applied on a full range of FirstNet activities.
  • Clearly identify any expected costs to states for enabling the networks’ development within the states.

1.5 Safe Administration of State Marijuana Programs

An emerging issue facing states is legalization of the growth, manufacture and use of marijuana; and governors are responsible for comprehensive regulation and safe administration of state programs governing it. Governors encourage the federal government to work collaboratively with states on federal laws and policies, particularly those involving public safety, that concern marijuana.

1.6  Combatting Human Trafficking
Every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. The federal government, states, and private partners must work together to raise awareness among stakeholders, secure justice for victims of labor and sex trafficking and increase collaboration and coordination between sectors. The federal government should work with states as full partners in combatting this modern-day slavery today and in the future.

1.6.1 Principles

  • Facilitating close coordination and collaboration between federal entities and governors to address human trafficking within state and local jurisdictions;
  • Ensuring cross sectoral partnership between public health, child welfare, and law enforcement;
  • Equipping state and local law enforcement with training and resources to raise awareness and increase the recognition and reporting of suspected trafficking incidences;
  • Protecting and supporting all victims of labor to sex trafficking, particularly vulnerable populations;
  • Prosecute and bring to justice suspected traffickers.


Time limited (effective Winter Meeting 2019 – Winter Meeting 2021). Adopted Winter Meeting 2019.