Local Police Request Quarantine Guidelines
Dec. 14, 2005

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has voiced concern that its members lack guidelines for enforcing quarantines, USA Today reported today (see GSN, Nov. 23).

While federal agencies and the military would lead quarantine efforts following a bioterrorist event or naturally occurring disease outbreak, according to USA Today, the association has complained that local law enforcement officials lack basic information about their role in such a crisis.

“We’re the ones who are going to be the first to respond. ... I would have thought we would be further along than we are now,” said association President and Gaithersburg, Md., Police Chief Mary Ann Viverette. “We need some guidance.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed a model state law on quarantines following the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. The model has been used as the basis for 80 pieces of legislation in 32 states; 30 of those bills have become law, according to the Center for Law and the Public’s Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities.

These laws, however, have created a “patchwork-quilt of legislation” with few specific guidelines for local police, according to the chiefs’ group.

Ram Koppaka, associate director for policy and preparedness in the CDC Global Migration and Quarantine Division, said the agency would review the association’s concerns (Kevin Johnson, USA Today, Dec. 14)