Are police and fire prepared for the social chaos in the wake of a grid down?

What all the articles, books and experts on the results and consequences of a “Grid Down” fail to address is the role of police and fire in the aftermath of a National Grid Down. The question we all need to ask is, have police and fire done any training, table top exercises or planning on how they will deploying their personnel or resources in a grid down emergency? 

I have personally asked numerous law enforcement and fire agencies if they have conducted any training or planning for their role in a Grid Down situation.  The answer has always been a resounding “No!”  I also had an opportunity to ask the Special Agent in Charge of Las Vegas, have any of the local law enforcement agencies in the area had conducted any training or planning if the grid were to go down.  His answer was, “No, but they should be!”  Can you imagine what Las Vegas would be like in a grid down event?


So, what plans do police and fire have to help their communities if the grid were to go down? This is a question that all of us need to ask our community first responders.  There is plenty of literature and opinions from experts as to how bad it will be to live in a grid down world, but nothing has been said as to the role of police and fire in a grid down situation.

Our greatest threat in a grid down incident is “social chaos,” and emergencies that require a police or fire response.  In a grid down scenario communications is one of the first things that break down.  Without communication police and fire will not know where to dispatch their personnel to deal with the emergencies that are sure to follow.  If police and fire have not made plans on how they will contend with a grid down catastrophe as to deployment and retention of their personnel then they are failing to protect their communities they serve.

We all take for granted in a catastrophic event that police and fire will be there to handle the situation, but in a national grid down, police and fire will most likely stay home if they are off duty to protect their family and property. The ones on duty may not stay at their post very long probably because they will be responding to their families to ensure their safety.   

Police and fire agencies should have plans in place on how to keep their personnel on duty and how to effectively deploy them to protect life and property despite the chaos that is sure to follow in a grid down event.

Every mayor, community leader or organizer needs to ask their Police Chief, Sheriff, and Fire Chief, just what are the plans for their communities in a National Grid down incident?  Don’t be fooled into an answer that FEMA will respond. In a national grid down catastrophe FEMA will not be able to respond to every community if they can respond at all in a nationwide crisis.

Dennis Porter has more than 38 years of law enforcement experience with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He is also a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and trainer. Dennis holds a master’s degree in Homeland Security with an emphasis in Emergency Disaster Management from American Military University.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.