In an exclusive interview with Firehouse® Magazine, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Associate Attorney General Raymond C. Fisher answer the questions America's first responders are asking about two important issues - our preparedness for domestic terrorism and the allocation of radio...
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Courtsey of the Department of Justice
Janet Reno was sworn in as the nation's 78th attorney general by President Clinton on March 12, 1993. From 1978 to the time of her appointment, Reno served as the state attorney for Dade County, FL. She was initially appointed to the position by the governor of Florida and was subsequently elected to that office five times.
Reno was a partner in the Miami-based law firm of Steel, Hector & Davis from 1976 to 1978. Before that, she served as an assistant state attorney and as staff director of the Florida House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, after starting her legal career in private practice.
Reno was born and raised in Miami, where she attended Dade County public schools. She received her B.A. in chemistry from Cornell University in 1960 and her LL.B. degree from Harvard Law School in 1963.
Raymond C. Fisher was appointed associate attorney general by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in November 1997. As the third-ranking official of the Department of Justice, he oversees the Civil, Civil Rights, Antitrust, Tax and Environment & National Resources divisions.
Courtsey of the Department of Justice
Raymond C. Fisher
Fisher received his B.A. degree in 1961 from the University of California at Santa Barbara and received his LL.B. degree in 1966 from Stanford Law School. He was a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan Jr. at the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In 1995, Fisher was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commission and was elected president in 1996. From 1984 to 1989, Fisher was a member of the Los Angeles City Civil Service Commission.
DOMESTIC TERRORISM RESPONSE
Law enforcement, fire, EMS, health care providers and hospitals have all said they are the first line of defense. How do we equal the playing field and listen to each of the concerns and financial needs of these different services?
RENO: All these services are correct. Law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel, hospital and health care workers, as well as other emergency response personnel such as those from public works agencies, all form a community's first line of defense. These and other services come together, along with the state and local public officials, to form a community's response to any emergency, including a terrorist incident.
State and local jurisdictions have, for years, been the first responders to countless emergencies. They know more than anyone that the only successful responses are those that are unified, integrated and communitywide. They also know that the key to successful responses is planning and continual communication and dialogue among all responsible agencies and public officials. To a very large degree states and local communities have been very good at emergency planning and could probably teach federal officials several lessons.
At the federal level we need to clearly define the appropriate federal role, and be very realistic in our assessment of what federal agencies are, and are not, able to do following terrorist incidents. All of us clearly understand that in the critical hours immediately following a terrorist incident, it will be local, and perhaps state, agencies that will be called upon to respond, assess and manage the scene, and make the critical decisions as to resources. From the Justice Department - particularly the department's new domestic preparedness initiative - we can help state and local jurisdictions be better prepared if such incidents occur. Through the domestic preparedness initiative, administered through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Justice Department can offer state and local agencies and officials training to assist them respond, funds to acquire needed equipment, and technical assistance to work with them in addressing specific issues and planning for potential incidents.