Parliament calls for better emergency response and preparedness

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A special committee of the Norwegian Parliament is calling for better cooperation between police and the military in emergency situations, along with better coordinated preparedness. Those are expected to be the most important demands from the committee formed after last summer’s terrorist attacks.

The parliament’s July 22 Committee is preparing its final draft for the proposal it will put forth on Thursday. News bureau NTB reported there already is widespread agreement among all the political parties in parliament (Stortinget), according to MP Jan Bøhler of the Labour Party.

The politicians was to see better coordination among various preparedness plans, better cooperation between police and the military, better communication among public agencies called on for help in emergencies, better helicopter preparedness and better security plans for possible terrorist targets.

Several individual parties have also prepared long lists of proposals for how they think holes in emergency preparedness can be filled.

“It’s a bit early to say how many of the proposals will receive majority support in Parliament, but I hope for broad agreement in most areas,” committee leader Knut Arild Hareide of the Christian Democrats (Kristelig folkepartiet, KrF) told NTB.

The need for better cooperation between police and the military already has been highlighted and is an area being address by new Justice Minister Grete Faremo, who most recently was defense minister. Defense chief Harald Sunde has said that civil defense forces could have secured government buildings within two to four hours after the July 22 attacks. Instead it took seven-and-a-half hours before the police even asked for help from the military.

The parliament is due to act on the committee’s recommendations March 7. They come in addition to those expected from a government-appointed commission that’s been investigating emergency response to the attacks since August.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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