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Disaster Zone Podcast: ‘A Growing Threat of Violence Against Public Officials’

Emergency managers are public officials.

A reality of 2023 is that there has been a rapid rise in the number of threats being made against public officials of all types. Thus, this Disaster Zone podcast: “A Growing Threat of Violence Against Public Officials.”

While emergency managers have not been “under the gun” as they say in normal times, I expect that in very large disasters where things don’t go very well and fingers of blame are being pointed at government, it would not be unexpected to see emergency managers get death threats. It easily could happen given the current atmosphere of calling out your opponents as enemies.

The data doesn’t lie, so the increase in threats documented and shared in this podcast is something for you to consider moving forward. If not terrorism, it is definitely extremism.

Here is the podcast description:

Pete Simi, a professor of sociology at Chapman University, is overseeing a research team of the university’s students and graduates who are diving into court records about federal cases of death threats sent to public officials, including officials elected or appointed in health care, education and law enforcement. Their findings will help alleviate the rising numbers of threats against public officials in the United States.

“Emergency managers and the average citizen need to understand the immediate and long-term impact of these threats to our civil society. Professor Simi has been studying political violence, hate, and extremism. His fieldwork has taken him inside white supremacist groups across the United States where he has been embedded with racist skinheads, Klan members, neo-Nazis, and anti-government militias. He is co-author (along with Robert Futrell) of an award-winning book American Swastika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate. The research is funded by a grant from the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education Center (NCITE) at the University of Nebraska Omaha, the newest Center of Excellence for the Department of Homeland Security, the team is creating a database of federal indictments that involve threats to public officials across the country from 2013 to 2023.”
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.