Forensic epidemiology : joint training for law enforcement and public health officials on investigative responses to bioterrorism : course manager's guide
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Forensic epidemiology : joint training for law enforcement and public health officials on investigative responses to bioterrorism : course manager's guide

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      The events of fall 2001, including the anthrax attacks and the thousands of biologic threats and hoaxes, required law enforcement, other public safety organizations, and public health agencies to work together in ways without precedent. The concurrent responses to such threats affirmed the many similarities in the goals and investigative methods used by both law enforcement and public health officials but also highlighted salient differences in the different disciplines’ approaches. To foster improved understanding of the investigative goals and methods specific to each discipline and to strengthen interdisciplinary collaborative effectiveness in response to future attacks involving biological agents, in the spring of 2002 the Public Health Law Program of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with other agencies and organizations undertook the development of a module for the joint training of law enforcement and public health officials.

      As noted above, a primary goal for the training module is to enhance the joint effectiveness of law enforcement and public health when both disciplines conduct concurrent investigations in response to a threat or attack involving possible biological weapons. The module addresses this goal by bringing law enforcement and public health officials together while working through fact-based case scenarios involving biological weapons attacks or threats.

      The module’s centerpiece is a set of three fact-based case scenarios worked through by small groups. The small groups, which include equal numbers of law enforcement and public health officials, address key objectives by reviewing sets of facts, and then by answering questions matched to the objectives. The objectives span a spectrum of issues, including, for example: conducting epidemiological investigations and public health responses in the setting of a crime scene; meshing criminal investigative procedures with epidemiological, laboratory, and other scientific procedures in such settings; and joint law enforcement and public health operations and communications. In addition to improving understanding of relevant laws, approaches, and procedures, the module’s delivery is designed to increase participants’ familiarity with their law enforcement and public health counterparts in their home jurisdictions. The module also employs a “train-the-trainers” strategy to emphasize peer teaching and to create a force-multiplier capacity for sustainable, additional training within a state or other jurisdictional level.

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