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For Immediate Release: October 23, 2005

Contact: FDLE Office of Public Information Tom Berlinger or Kristen Perezluha (850) 410-7001

Florida Law Enforcement Prepares for Arrival of Hurricane Wilma

Tallahassee - As the State of Florida makes final preparations for the landfall of Hurricane Wilma, Florida’s law enforcement community continues to coordinate assets and manpower.

The planned response includes a massive partnership between state law enforcement officers, local deputy sheriffs and city police officers from communities around the state, along with a large contingent from the Florida National Guard. .

“We’ve responded to many hurricanes in recent years, and our system of law enforcement disaster response is recognized by many as the model for the nation,” noted Guy Tunnell, the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the agency designated to lead law enforcement’s mutual aid efforts. “Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature want and expect no less than the best from us, and they have given us the tools and resources to respond in a very speedy and efficient manner,” said Tunnell.

Law enforcement first-responders will focus first on urban search and rescue, the efforts designed to rescue residents that find themselves in a dire or dangerous circumstance following the storm. Additionally, many officers will move on to security details that are designed to ensure the safety of the people and property that remain within the areas hardest hit by the storm. As with the seven hurricanes that impacted Florida within the past 14 months, many law enforcement first-responders will also perform humanitarian efforts such as distributing food, water and supplies to residents that may be without power or other basic needs.

In total, FDLE and state and local law enforcement partners have identified and readied almost 700 state law enforcement officers and 1,000 local deputy sheriffs and police officers. These officers have been placed on standby to respond on short notice immediately following the storm. Many of the urban search and rescue personnel are already in position.

In addition, the Florida National Guard has approximately 1,000 guardsmen and women on standby for law enforcement type missions. When deployed, their primary job will be to provide security for neighborhoods, businesses and critical infrastructure that may need protection after the storm.

FDLE is activating Regional Law Enforcement Command Centers in Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, and is mobilizing and staging an Incident Management Team to support communications and coordination of responding law enforcement assets.

“We have 17 million residents and a few million visitors in our state at any given time,” said Commissioner Tunnell, “I am proud to report that the men and women who dedicate their lives to Florida law enforcement on a daily basis will be there with them during this time of critical need.” 

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Last updated: November 09, 2007

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