COPE Preparedness (formerly COPSS) EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 2009
“Promoting Emergency Preparedness through Proactive Community Outreach”

September 11th, 2001 marked a turning point in the American way of life.  In a single day terrorists shattered our false perception of invulnerability.  The Indonesia tsunami caught thousands of people off guard; no one knew the danger racing through the ocean depths until it was too late to act.  Hurricane Katrina proved that there are some disasters that even the entire resources of the United States government are not equipped to handle.   The wake of this disaster left New Orleans in shambles.  While most of Los Angeles was sleeping at 4:30 am, on January 17, 1994, the Northridge earthquake began its devastating torrent through the southland.  Buildings, roads, bridges, and overpasses were destroyed, and countless lives were spared only because of the early morning hours of relative inactivity.  Many Harbor Area residents clearly remember December 17, 1976 when the 60,000-ton supertanker S.S. Sansinena exploded in the Port of Los Angeles.  Glass was shattered in homes and businesses throughout the Peninsula and widespread damage was reported. 

The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest port in the United States by container volume and the Harbor Area is exceptionally vulnerable to a range of hazards including earthquakes, terrorist attacks, tsunamis and toxic explosions.  Disasters occur without warning, and thousands of lives are wiped out in minutes.  Survival is a matter of being prepared, not just when disaster strikes but also through the terrible aftermath.

It is these realities that initiated the formation of the Committee on Port Safety and Security (COPSS) in October of 2004.  COPSS was founded by Lonna Calhoun, an elected board member of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, and was initially formulated as an ad hoc Neighborhood Council committee, as part of the Los Angeles City government body.  The initial mission of COPSS was to promote the safety and security of community stakeholders, defined as; everyone who lives, works, owns property, or worships in the Harbor Area, including San Pedro, Wilmington, and Harbor City.  Subsequently, COPSS united six Harbor Area Neighborhood Councils (Central San Pedro, Coastal San Pedro, Northwest San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City and Harbor Gateway South Neighborhood Councils) through voted upon resolutions, and integrated the first responder agencies, local, state, and federal elected officials, and stakeholders.

In June of 2006, COPSS formed a taskforce to identify the viability of forming a non-profit corporation to meet this goal.  The taskforce and the COPSS committee unanimously agreed upon moving forward to create a tax-exempt corporation.  This new entity was formed as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit in 2006 and named Community Outreach Promoting Safety and Security (COPSS).  This organization now serves as the new structure for COPSS efforts to support the emergency preparedness of the community.  In 2009, COPSS changed its name to COPE Preparedness. Community Outreach Promoting Emergency Preparedness to better reflect its mission of “preparedness”.

Current Board of Directors members include: Major General (Ret) Peter Gravett, Mike Feyder, Tom Villiger, Carter Calhoun, Chief Louis Roupoli, Christopher Riccardi, Lonna Calhoun, Steve Jordan, and Robert Maynez.  Board of Governors members include; Captain Joan McNamara, LAPD, Diane Middleton, Esq.  Advisory Committee Members include representatives from each Harbor Area Neighborhood Council. New board member applications are being accepted.  The COPE Preparedness Board of Directors meets monthly to discuss and advance emergency preparedness issues affecting the Harbor Area and has facilitated their coordinated efforts through committee meetings. 

Furthermore COPE Preparedness conducts regular quarterly community forums featuring educational information and speakers.  COPE Preparedness has built an email distribution list of over 5000 concerned harbor area community leaders and stakeholders.  COPE Preparedness regularly communicates issues of emergency management to the community through its email blasts.

COPE Preparedness has established a direct and positive relationship with the first responder agencies working on evacuation and emergency preparedness for the Harbor Area.  COPE Preparedness is fully aligned and working with the Area Maritime Security Committee (AMSC), a nationally recognized model tasked with organizing the efforts of emergency response organizations.  COPE Preparedness has a voting position on the AMSC, Shoreside Stakeholder Sub-Committee representing the Los Angeles Community.  COPE Preparedness committee meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) Homeland Security Division, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Port Police, Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD), United States Coast Guard (USCG), Neighborhood Council representatives, and city, state, and federal elected officials.  COPE Preparedness has been featured on KCET, Life and Times, and COMCAST “Around Los Angeles”.

COPE Preparedness is recognized as the voice of the Harbor Area on issues of stakeholder emergency preparedness in conjunction and support of local emergency management efforts. The COPE Preparedness website distributes updated information on the aforementioned issues, progress towards COPE Preparedness goals and initiatives, and important links to first responders and organizations involved in emergency management.  COPE Preparedness has achieved an extraordinary level of support and success thanks to dedicated involvement from committee members and first responder organizations.  In September 2008, COPE Preparedness partnered with the City of Los Angeles to promote an Emergency Fair that drew over 2000 participants.  COPE Preparedness raised funds then donated over $17,000 to the Fair’s success giving away over $13,000 worth of emergency supplies to the community.  COPE Preparedness was represented by Lonna Calhoun as an ambassador for the Great California ShakeOut which was the largest earthquake drill in U.S history in November 2008.  Lonna as President of COPE Preparedness also represented Janice Hahn and the 15th District at the International ShakeOut Conference.

COPE Preparedness is currently organizing a multi agency and wide based community four phase summit tiled the “Community Continuity”.  The  four phases or events will engage community NPO’s, Ports and labor, private and public schools, chambers, industry, refineries, faith-based, hospitals, homeowner associations and other NGO’s in sharing individual emergency plans and formulating the basis for a written community emergency operating plan to be completed by January 2010.
COPE Preparedness has identified significant need in the Harbor Area for a comprehensive disaster preparedness outreach program.  Currently COPE Preparedness is the only community based organization actively involved in emergency management. 

COPE Preparedness has accomplished a lot but much more needs to be done!

Research to date has identified the following facts:

  • The general public is not prepared to fulfill what all authorities claim would be a requirement in the case of a severe crisis i.e.; take care of themselves and shelter in place for from 72 hours to three weeks;
  • At this time a fully coordinated community emergency/evacuation is still in the planning stages.  First responders, port industry and government officials have independent plans but they have not been fully coordinated into a comprehensive community plan. COPE Preparedness should maintain a proactive force in moving towards the completion of this plan;
  • At this time there is still need for a fully coordinated communication plan to clarify specific rolls within first responder organizations as to the line of communication and command;
  • There is not a fully operable and reliable communication system for emergency/evacuation notification to the community;
  • A large underserved portion of the community is unable to afford basic emergency kits and emergency preparation outreach to low-income families is almost non-existent;
  • First Responder agencies are under funded and unable to fully achieve identified community outreach goals;
  • Community First Responder organizations are not fully coordinated with a comprehensive approach to community outreach;
  • The community is at risk for and are not adequately prepared for potential hazards such as a terrorist attack, earthquakes, tsunami’s, explosions, and/or a toxic environmental emergencies; 
  • Evacuation of this community has severe challenges and we must be prepared to survive while we shelter in place if necessary;
  • Each and every one of us has a personal responsibility for our own safety and individual emergency preparedness, since we are only as strong as our weakest link; 
  • The community must mobilize and work together now to be adequately prepared for emergencies, and 
  • Many lives could depend on our actions of today.

In July of 2008 an audit conducted by Laura Chick, City of Los Angeles Controller validated the findings of COPE Preparedness in a document titled: Performance Audit of the City of Los Angeles Emergency Planning Efforts and Citywide Disaster Preparedness.    This audit confirmed the importance of the work and mission of COPE Preparedness

The mission of Community Outreach Promoting Emergency Preparedness, COPE Preparedness is:
“Promoting Emergency Preparedness through Proactive Community Outreach”

COPE Preparedness Goals are to:

  • Research what is being done to protect the community and ensure that community stakeholders are informed, educated, and ready to survive emergencies and/or disasters;
  • Reinforce all existing public emergency management programs provided by City, County, State and Federal governmental bodies;
  • Create and maintain a sense of urgency by all concerned that this issue is of highest priority to all Harbor Area Stakeholders.

COPE Preparedness Objectives are to:

  • Expand offerings of multi-page web site at (   Web site to initially include: a community awareness and disaster preparedness survey, links to important community resources (i.e. – LAFD, neighborhood councils, C.E.R.T.).  Expanded offerings to include the ability for people to log in to list their skills, supplies and other resources. This information can be organized and provided to partnering community organizations (C.E.R.T., neighborhood watch leaders).  A community Forum will be provided where first responders can answer community questions.  Email notifications will be sent to distribution lists to provide pertinent new information and give reminders to change batteries and emergency supplies. Emergency communications via email and phone trees can assist first responder communication efforts.
  • Design, purchase, and distribute flyers that will: address the role of COPE Preparedness in the community; encourage participation in the COPE Preparedness online survey; direct inquiries to office phone and COPE Preparedness representatives for further information on emergency preparedness materials; contents of an emergency kit, etc..
  • Produce a Emergency Operation Plan (EOP) of community entities that will enhance the EOP of local emergency management departments and agencies. 
  • Provide access to emergency preparedness supplies: to be provided through the website to community members.  Use grant/donor dollars to provide FREE emergency supplies to low income households and community nonprofits in need.
  • Research to: identify the needs and disaster preparedness status of the community at large (including total local C.E.R.T. member base, and analyze responses to online survey, conduct community interviews). 
  • Compile list of human and supply resources within the community and make this available on the web site.   Map community and divide into sections then conduct a block to block neighborhood resource campaign utilize Neighborhood Watch volunteers and Homeowners Associations.  Focus efforts on block by block orientations and identification of resources as well as infirm, elderly and others special need individuals.
  • Prepare a comprehensive community disaster awareness and preparedness presentation: to be offered at schools, churches, neighborhood council meetings, local television.  Specialized focus on different disasters pertinent to this area and how to react to them differently.  Support current programs such as C.E.R.T.
  • Aggregate information from websites: relating to disaster preparedness, health, techniques, etc.  Compose a manual / booklet and sell/give it to community members.
  • Outreach to all community stakeholders including low-income and Hispanic populations through bi-lingual products/publications/presentations.
  • Conduct House Parties to promote emergency preparedness much like the “Tupperware Party” model offering discounted emergency supplies and gathering and familiarizing neighbors in support of each other.
  • Represent the community via participation in first responder, elected official and community based emergency planning meetings, forums and events.

COPE Preparedness leadership, direction and motivation have been established.  A positive history of commitment and accomplishment will bolster future efforts.  Timing is critical, so COPE Preparedness will act today to save lives tomorrow. 

COPE Preparedness Cares…..Be Aware and Be Prepared!

For further information contact:
Lonna Calhoun, President
Community Outreach Promoting Emergency Preparedness, COPE Preparedness
310 – 982-1180