In case you haven’t heard about this, the story is here, here, and here. From what I can gather, Louisiana State Senator Johnathan Perry went on KPEL-FM/Lafayette and talked about proposing legislation that would allow people that want to help in emergency situations (like the recent flooding) to get training and certification that would allow them to help in those situations without being constantly hassled by law enforcement or break state law by going beyond law enforcement perimeters in those situations.
First, from a facebook video Senator Perry has posted he is stating that people are saying hateful things about him, and making threats against him and his family. This is not right. I don’t care if you think his idea is flawed, stupid, cray cray, or wrong, that is not a reason to attack Senator Perry or threaten him. Again, debate the idea, not attack anyone you disagree with.
While I think the senator has great intentions, I believe this is in need of some work before any legislation is proposed. First, anyone wanting to help should be coordinating with local law enforcement, not attempting to side step them. If there are perimeters setup, they are in place for a reason, and if you’re going beyond it you should a) know what you are doing, b) be a part of the coordinated effort so that people are not either part of the problem, nor getting in the way, and c) be willing to take direction from the authorities in charge so resources (that would be you) can be used in the best way possible. I understand the desire to remove restrictions from people that are willing to help, but this method as it stands seems to be a recipe for people showing up with an attitude of “I’m certified, so I can do what I want.”
Look, Senator Perry, and anyone else that wants to help. Get together with the Louisiana Sheriffs Association and the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, State and Parish Emergency Preparedness Officials and figure out how to put a program together that would allow people to volunteer to assist in emergencies. If we want to train these people so they are a true asset in emergencies then let’s find a way to do that. However, the big thing here is that any rescue efforts, including by volunteers, needs to be coordinated through the proper authorities to assure that we are maximizing the coverage with the resources available.
As for the costs to cover this new undertaking, I am sure if we come up with a viable plan, explain the plan to the public, and put out an appeal to help fund it, us Cajuns will make it happen.