Poloncarz presents facts about upcoming conference

I would like to share with everyone the importance of some county personnel attending the 2021 National Homeland Security Conference scheduled for later this year in Las Vegas. The annual Homeland Security Conference, organized by the National Homeland Security Association, provides an opportunity for emergency services’ personnel, health personnel, county and municipal managers and other public servants to join together with counterparts from across the country to examine, review, and discuss security responses to a wide range of potential hazards and situations that may arise in our community.

As the organizing body, NHSA moves the conference around the country each year, allowing selected local Homeland Security departments to spotlight their communities and play an active role in organizing this popular conference. When this same conference came to Buffalo in 2017, presentations included lessons learned from mass shooting events. That event brought thousands of emergency managers and personnel from across the country and as far away as Hawaii to Buffalo for three days. It generated more than 3,000 hotel room nights and millions of dollars for the local economy while giving many participants their first-ever experience of our area. The 2017 conference was very well-received by all and our local efforts were applauded by the NHSA, and it is now our goal to work with partners in Niagara County to return the conference here. The only way that happens, and the conference’s multi-million-dollar impact is brought back to Erie County in the future, is for our representatives to attend the current conference and advocate for our region.

Some of the informational sessions already planned for this year’s event include the following: Best Practices Established During COVID-19 Response; Crisis Leadership and Decision Making; COVID, CARES, CASH: COVID-19 Financial Recovery Workshop; Combating Domestic Violent Extremism.

Thousands of emergency managers and personnel from across the country, all interested in protecting their communities by employing the lessons they learn at the conference, are expected to attend. The conference serves as a professional development and learning tool, underscoring the importance of sharing knowledge and lessons learned from professional colleagues and then applying those lessons in our own community. Much as our Erie County team is at the forefront of COVID-19 response locally, we will also be at the front of whatever the next crisis or hazard affecting our community is. Preparedness is critical to response and participation in the conference greatly enhances preparedness.

While some elected officials and online critics are always eager to attack the people trying to protect our community, in reality their ignorance of the conference, its recent positive multi-million-dollar impact for Erie County, and its goals is disappointing and shows that they have not taken the time to learn more. Purposely misrepresenting the conference, distorting the facts and smearing the dedicated public servant first responders taking part demonstrates once again that these individuals put scoring political points above protecting the safety of the county he ostensibly represents. Erie County deserves much better.