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FEMA suspends Phoenix's rescue team over firearms rule
The Associated Press

PHOENIX- The Phoenix Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue team has been suspended by a federal agency because it brought armed police officers for protection on hurricane relief missions.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency's conduct code prohibits urban search-and-rescue teams from having guns.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon called the reaction from FEMA "stunning, unbelievable, bewildering and outrageous."

Phoenix's team included four police officers who were deputized as U.S. marshals when they participated in relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita.

The team was credited with plucking more than 400 Katrina survivors from rooftops and freeway overpasses in flooded sections of New Orleans.

Phoenix officials are threatening to refuse deployments in the future or possibly pull out of the federal agency altogether unless the rules are changed to allow teams to bring their own security, even if that means police with guns.

Phoenix police were added to the team about a year ago, and officials say they are essential to protecting firefighters and FEMA's $1.4 million (euro1.17 million) worth of equipment.

Assistant Phoenix Fire Chief Bob Khan said his department also is questioning the federal agency's ability to manage working conditions, security and communications.

"We have an obligation to provide the safest environment as we can," Khan said.

U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said he was dismayed by the suspension because the setup with the police officers seemed ideal.

"We think this was a model," he said. "We think all rescue teams should have armed escorts wherever they go, and we think this is something they should adopt nationwide."

FEMA relies on 28 elite teams like the Phoenix group to perform specialized rescue operations immediately after terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

According to the mayor, FEMA officials advised the team to bring U.S. marshals along on the initial trip.

After Hurricane Katrina struck, firefighters faced deployment to areas plagued by looting and lawlessness. Twice, Phoenix's team was confronted by law enforcement officers who refused to let them pass through their communities and told them to "get out or get shot," Gordon said.

Officials told the Phoenix team on Sept. 26 that their help was no longer needed after members of the group were seen embarking on a helicopter flight with a loaded shotgun while helping with the aftermath of Rita.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
 

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Another example of FEMA's incompetence. If they cannot look at the decision to have police officers (sworn federally mind you) as protection for the search and rescue team as reasonable, then what is? With many of the police departments stressed to the max and incompetence, thugs and criminals firing shots at construction workers, etc., than FEMA should pack it up and get out. FEMA does not provided security and law enforcement and are not a police agency. For all intents and purposes a national relief and emergency management policy organization. They coordinate the efforts to get all the emergency personnel to wherever they have to go and handle the planning aspect, obviously with an initial lack of concern for many of the basics on these storms. I don't blame this crew at all for bringing their own LEO's.
 

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:dito:

This is an example of what to do not what not to do. FEMA has Emergency rescue teams, medical teams and even emergency vet teams. But no law enforcment teams.
Kinda makes no sense if you ask me.#-o
 

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topcop14 said:
:dito:

This is an example of what to do not what not to do. FEMA has Emergency rescue teams, medical teams and even emergency vet teams. But no law enforcment teams.
Kinda makes no sense if you ask me.#-o
Not to appear contradictory, but check out the "FEMA no more 10 codes" thread. There have been sightings of armed agents with "FEMA" on their uniforms recently.

Don't believe for one moment FEMA has no law enforcement personnel or powers. They're just not very visible
:NO:
 

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