Journal Article

Policing Iowa’s Katrina: Law Enforcement Response in Flood Disasters

Luke Bonkiewicz and R. Barry Ruback

in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice

Volume 4, issue 4, pages 373-383
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 1752-4512
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1752-4520 | DOI:
Policing Iowa’s Katrina: Law Enforcement Response in Flood Disasters

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Disaster response by law enforcement is an understudied topic in both police and disaster research. This paper analyses the actions of the police during a flood in a US city using a general model of disaster response by law enforcement. This model suggests that, because citizens have different priorities and engage in different behaviours before, during, and after a disaster, law enforcement must employ different styles of policing in each stage of a disaster to meet both the needs of citizens and the challenges of the disaster. Using information gathered from newspaper articles, we find strong support for the validity of this model. We also find that law enforcement actions were successful before and during the flood, but police response after the flood did not conform to the model and, consistent with our hypothesis, proved less effective. Implications for future research regarding the role, responsibilities, and efficacy of the police in disasters are discussed.

Journal Article.  6678 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Policing

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