The Mutual Aid System
The Mutual Aid System is an extension of the concept of “neighbor helping neighbor.” The Law Enforcement Mutual Aid System was established in 1961, and has been used to restore order during emergencies, including civil unrest and to provide assistance to local agencies during other unusual events. As a component of the Standardized Emergency Management System [SEMS], the Mutual Aid System is based on four organizational levels: cities, counties, regions and the State. (A county is an operational area along with its political Subdivisions.) The state is divided into seven Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Regions. The County Sheriff is a key role player within the system. Each sheriff serves as the Regional Mutual Aid Coordinator.
The basic concept provides that within the operational area, adjacent or neighboring law enforcement agencies will assist each other. Should the event require assistance from outside the county, the region will provide requested assistance to the impacted county. If the combined resources of the region are insufficient to cope with the incident, the Regional Coordinator contacts the State Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Coordinator at Cal EMA. A similar plan exists for The County Coroners. The plan provides for coroner assistance from the local up to the federal level.
Planned events, such as concerts, parades, fairs, etc. are the responsibility of local agencies. Any requirement for additional public safety presence should be addressed through contractual arrangements. If any event, planned or spontaneous, appears that it may result in a request for mutual aid, or some other special resource, and early call to the Cal EMA Law Enforcement Division is encouraged. A staff peace officer from the branch will usually be assigned to work directly with the jurisdiction to assist in plans development.
Mutual Aid Manuals/Training:
The Law Enforcement Division produces several manuals designed to assist law enforcement agencies in correctly applying law enforcement mutual aid.
The Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations provides law enforcement agencies with a better understanding of the State’s Emergency Management System, the Incident Command System, and provides guidance with law enforcement response to major emergencies.
The Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Course is a P.O.S.T. certified 2-day course presenting concepts and principles of the Law Enforcement Mutual Aid System. The course includes a tabletop exercise designed to assist students in integrating these concepts into practical skills.
As an adjunct to effective mutual aid, the division shares responsibility of the California Law Enforcement Mutual Aid Radio System [CLEMARS]. The CLEMARS Plan documents application for, and use of, the system.