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Potential Threats That May Impact the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Community

While the information contained in this news article was current and accurate when we posted it, it may not necessarily represent current WVOEMS policy or procedure. If you have any questions, please contact our office at 304-558-3956.

Posted: Friday, November 18, 2016 4:37 PM

 

Potential Threats That May Impact the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Community
The following information is an excerpt from recent publication designated for official use. There have been several studies done in recent years surrounding the clothing worn by Fire and EMS professionals and how that clothing correlates with Law Enforcement.
As a result of this, several recommendations have been made to the industry.
Background:
Fire and EMS employees regularly report that they are mistaken for police. Some Fire Departments and EMS agencies wear uniforms with badges and styling that is similar to law enforcement. Homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) that are inspired by terrorist groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) continue to demonstrate a strong intent to attack uniformed law enforcement and military personnel nationwide. Concerns are that the misidentification of Fire and EMS personnel for Police could increase the likelihood of a mistaken-identity attack by an HVE.
Domestic terrorists - including black supremacist extremists, sovereign citizen extremists and lone offenders - have engaged in violence against law enforcement throughout the United States in the previous year. As with HVEs, there is a concern that misidentification of Fire/EMS by domestic terrorists could lead to a mistaken-identity attack. Regardless of uniform, domestic terrorists pose a threat to Fire/EMS personnel because of explosives and HazMat on their property. There is also a tendency for domestic terrorists to beginning swatting (calling in false calls).
Examples:
September of 2014, ISIL released an audio message calling on adherents in the United States and Europe to attack "Soldiers, Patrons and troops" as well as "Police, Security and Intelligence members". This type of call out could result in attacks against Fire and EMS personnel that are being confused for Law Enforcement because of uniform choice.
October of 2015, recognizing the need to separate themselves from Law Enforcement, the Metro Denver Fire Chiefs' Association sent a request to department chiefs asking for a uniform change in response to violent targeting of law enforcement nationally.
July of 2016, Gavin Long fatally shot and killed three Baton Rouge police officers and wounded three others before being killed by police. Mr. Long's social media accounts should an animosity towards white people and anger over officer-involved shootings of African Americans, including threatening statements against police officers. An ID card found on his body indicated he belonged to a non-violent sovereign citizen group that advocates black supremacist ideology.
July of 2016, Micha Johnson fatally shot several Dallas Police Department officers and one Dallas
Area Rapid Transit officer in a crowd during a First Amendment -protected event in downtown Dallas
before being killed by police. According to reports, Mr. Johnson cited grievances with recent officerinvolved
shootings and indicated he aspired to kill Caucasian law enforcement officers. Mr. Johnson
showed interest in black supremacist extremist ideology, but there is no evidence that he ever joined a
group.
As you can see, the threat is real for violence against police. The fact that many still have
uniform standards that mimic those of law enforcement is a concern for safety. The more these threats
materialize, the larger the risk for Fire/EMS workers.
Although swatting has not been largely reported as an issue in West Virginia, there have been
cases where valuable resources have been called to a scene that ended up being a distraction. In the
advent of these types of calls for Fire/EMS that are dressed as police may be putting themselves in
harm's way. A person that is interested in attacking police officers will not care if you showed up in an
Ambulance or Fire Truck when they begin their act of violence.

 

Potential Threats That May Impact the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Community

The following information is an excerpt from recent publication designated for official use. There have been several studies done in recent years surrounding the clothing worn by Fire and EMS professionals and how that clothing correlates with Law Enforcement.

As a result of this, several recommendations have been made to the industry.

 

Background:

Fire and EMS employees regularly report that they are mistaken for police. Some Fire Departments and EMS agencies wear uniforms with badges and styling that is similar to law enforcement. Homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) that are inspired by terrorist groups such as the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) continue to demonstrate a strong intent to attack uniformed law enforcement and military personnel nationwide. Concerns are that the misidentification of Fire and EMS personnel for Police could increase the likelihood of a mistaken-identity attack by an HVE.

Domestic terrorists - including black supremacist extremists, sovereign citizen extremists and lone offenders - have engaged in violence against law enforcement throughout the United States in the previous year. As with HVEs, there is a concern that misidentification of Fire/EMS by domestic terrorists could lead to a mistaken-identity attack. Regardless of uniform, domestic terrorists pose a threat to Fire/EMS personnel because of explosives and HazMat on their property. There is also a tendency for domestic terrorists to beginning swatting (calling in false calls).

 

Examples:

September of 2014, ISIL released an audio message calling on adherents in the United States and Europe to attack "Soldiers, Patrons and troops" as well as "Police, Security and Intelligence members". This type of call out could result in attacks against Fire and EMS personnel that are being confused for Law Enforcement because of uniform choice.

October of 2015, recognizing the need to separate themselves from Law Enforcement, the Metro Denver Fire Chiefs' Association sent a request to department chiefs asking for a uniform change in response to violent targeting of law enforcement nationally.

July of 2016, Gavin Long fatally shot and killed three Baton Rouge police officers and wounded three others before being killed by police. Mr. Long's social media accounts should an animosity towards white people and anger over officer-involved shootings of African Americans, including threatening statements against police officers. An ID card found on his body indicated he belonged to a non-violent sovereign citizen group that advocates black supremacist ideology.

July of 2016, Micha Johnson fatally shot several Dallas Police Department officers and one Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer in a crowd during a First Amendment -protected event in downtown Dallas before being killed by police. According to reports, Mr. Johnson cited grievances with recent officer-involved shootings and indicated he aspired to kill Caucasian law enforcement officers. Mr. Johnson showed interest in black supremacist extremist ideology, but there is no evidence that he ever joined a group.

As you can see, the threat is real for violence against police. The fact that many still have uniform standards that mimic those of law enforcement is a concern for safety. The more these threats materialize, the larger the risk for Fire/EMS workers.

Although swatting has not been largely reported as an issue in West Virginia, there have been cases where valuable resources have been called to a scene that ended up being a distraction. In the advent of these types of calls for Fire/EMS that are dressed as police may be putting themselves in harm's way. A person that is interested in attacking police officers will not care if you showed up in an Ambulance or Fire Truck when they begin their act of violence.

 

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