The Citizen Corps program was initiated nationally by President Bush after September 11, 2001, encouraging citizens to actively participate in their community in areas such as crime prevention, emergency response, and emergency preparedness and mitigation for not only acts of terror, but for all hazards - including natural, man-made or technological disasters.
The goal of the Citizen Corps program is to create a national network of state and local Citizen Corps Councils to tailor volunteer activities and opportunities to the community and to provide a unified approach to recruitment, retention, and public education and awareness. Local Citizen Corps councils, through their component programs, will offer training to citizens and volunteer opportunities for everyone, including those with special skills and interests
Every local Citizen Corps council will be different, depending on the needs and the resources of each local community. Communities that are considering establishing a Citizen Corps council should include representatives from the following kinds of organizations or groups (this list is not exclusive; representation on a local Citizen Corps council is locally determined):
- first responder / emergency management
- volunteer community
- elected officials
- business leaders
- school systems representatives
- transportation sector
- media executives
- minority and special needs representation
- leadership from community sub-structure
The five programs under the Citizen Corps umbrella include:
- USAonWatch - Neighborhood Watch
- Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)
- Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- Medical Reserve Corps
- Fire Corps
Each program is coordinated by both federal and State agencies at their respective levels. While some communities may choose to be active in all of those programs, others may only choose some of the programs. Additional programs and opportunities for public education, training or volunteer programs that promote community and family safety may be coordinated through a local Citizen Corps council.
The community will benefit from actively participating in the Citizen Corps initiative by achieving a greater sense of security, responsibility, and personal control of their community and the hazards they may face. The program will also build community pride and patriotism while preparing us all for helping others in a crisis.
The New York State Disaster Preparedness Commission (DPC) functions as the State's Citizen Corps Council, which addresses the key State responsibilities under Citizen Corps and provides recommendations to the Commission as a whole. This working group is comprised of agencies involved with one of the five federal programs under the Citizen Corps umbrella. New York State's responsibilities in the Citizen Corps initiative include:
- Promoting Citizen Corps at the State level
- Provide guidance
- Establishing statewide partnerships
- Conducting statewide public information and outreach campaigns
- Facilitate grants for CPP
- Conducting Community Emergency Response Team - Train-the-Trainer courses
Denise Lorette, NYS Citizen Corps Coordinator
Visit Federal Citizen Corps website at www.citizencorps.gov to assure that you have been officially recognized and are listed as a New York State Citizen Corps Council, as well as to read updated news on the Citizen Corps program.