District Attorney Boudin Expands Mass Casualty Crisis Cooperation for 9 Bay Area Counties

By Carlin Ross

SAN FRANCISCO – In the wake of weather chaos, violence, and pandemic, District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced this week an expansion of a mass crisis unity plan for nine Bay Area counties.

Boudin, the 29th District Attorney of San Francisco, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide more immediate support to victims of mass casualty events across San Francisco, Alameda, Sonoma, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, San Joaquin, Solano, and Santa Cruz counties.

The MOU was signed Thursday on the third anniversary of the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed.  Hundreds of family members and loved ones were devastated by the event and will be forever impacted by that day, said Boudin, noting that Bay Area counties, including San Francisco, sent aid to Las Vegas to provide critical support to survivors.

In the Greater Bay Area, there have been several incidents, including the Ghost Ship Fire in Alameda County, the 2017 UPS shooting in San Francisco, and the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting last year, where the multi-county partnership was in play – participating counties sent support to the Family Assistance Center there

In a statement, Boudin noted that the Bay Area Mass Casualty Planning Committee began meeting in 2015 to prepare and plan emergency responses related to mass violence incidents.  This MOU, initially signed in 2017 with seven counties, allows for each county’s victim and witness advocates to travel to the affected county to provide aid to those in need of assistance.

Boudin explained that any participating county impacted by a mass casualty crime incident can request shared resources and personnel from surrounding counties.  This is important  because a mass casualty event can quickly deplete county resources because of the high number of people affected by suffering injuries, witnessing the incident, or experiencing the loss of a loved one.

In such an event, the MOU said, the other counties would deploy staff and support to the affected county to ensure that there are sufficient victim and witness support providers available in the aftermath of a mass violence event.

As District Attorney Boudin noted, “the year 2020 has shown us, in times of unpredictable tragedies, we must unite and support one another. We of course hope that there is never a need to respond to another mass casualty incident. But, in the event that another tragic disaster strikes, this partnership among nine different counties in the Bay Area is an important recommitment to taking care of each other in the hardest of times.”

With wildfires, disease, political unrest, and protests, it’s tough to keep in mind the victims of past crime; especially years into the future.

Boudin and the other District Attorneys, however, have viewed this time of disorder as an opportunity to grow closer as a community. Instead of turning a blind eye to victims of tragic incidents, Boudin vowed to provide them support years into the future, after the mass casualty events.

“The series of challenges we have experienced in 2020 have taught us that we cannot predict this type of crises we could face and that when a significant event happens we need our partners to work with us toward recovery,” said Dr. Gena Castro Rodriguez, Chief of Victim Services in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, who started the Bay Area Mass Casualty Planning Committee and played a key role in the MOU.

“We are proud of the work we have done and will continue to do to collaborate, plan, practice and prepare for mass casualty crime incidents throughout the Bay Area. We hope that we will never need to exercise a critical response to a mass casualty crime, but if we do, we are ready,” Rodriguez said.

District Attorneys from the various counties expressed the importance of this collaboration.

“The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office is proud to partner with our neighboring counties to share resources and personnel in the event of a mass casualty incident,” explained San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “2020 has taught us that tragedy recognizes no boundaries and that preparation and cooperation among our contiguous counties will ensure the safety and wellbeing of our collective communities.”

“The coordination between all of our offices is key in helping victims of crime during a horrific event,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton. “We have to support each other when these events occur and provide critical victim services during and long after an event.”

“Community unity is crucial in a time of crisis,” explained Marin District Attorney Lori E. Frugoli. “Marin County is honored to partner with the Victim Services Divisions of Bay Area District Attorney’s Offices to provide mutual aide in the time of a mass casualty event.  For more information about the Marin County District Attorney’s Office Victim Services Division programs, see https://www.marincountyda.org/service/victim-witness-assistance or email us at MCDAVictimWitness@marincounty.org.”

“We have experienced far too many incidents in the Bay Area and across California that have resulted in mass casualties.  Whether the result of shootings, fires, incidents at the hands of another or natural disaster, the impact is far greater than for any one agency to provide comprehensive responses and advocacies. While we hope that we will never again face a mass casualty incident, we must be prepared to respond if the need arises,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley.

“The nine Bay Area counties have joined together with united protocols, extensive training and coordination to provide mutually combined responses in the face of tragedy.  We are all committed to providing the best possible help to any and all of our communities. Working together, we are stronger for our communities and for any individual who is affected by a mass casualty event,” O’Malley added.

For those impacted by the Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting, the Santa Clara County DA’s Office’s Victim Services Unit, the American Red Cross and the County’s Behavioral Health Services have opened a Family Assistance Center to assist those people affected by the shootings at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. For information, call (408) 209-8356.

Those effected by the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center staff are available to those affected. For information, call 702-455-2433 or email vegasstrongresiliencycenter@clarkcountynv.gov.

California residents impacted by the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting, the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB) may be able to help them pay bills and expenses resulting from the incident. For assistance, please complete the CalVCB application for Las Vegas shooting victims or visit the How to Apply page.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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