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<em>First to Arrive:  State and Local Responses to Terrorism</em>

John Axon

First to Arrive: State and Local Responses to Terrorism

Book, MIT Press

September 2003

Authors: Robyn Pangi, Former Research Specialist, Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness, International Security Program, Juliette Kayyem, Belfer Lecturer in Inernational Security, Harvard Kennedy School

Ordering Information for this publication

Belfer Center Studies in International Security

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Belfer Center Studies in International Security; International Security



"First to Arrive is a critically important resource for national security practitioners, students, and concerned citizens; it should be read by both specialists and those who are just beginning to explore the field. Written by experts and first responders, it presents insightful and realistic solutions to the problematic field of security in the post-9/11 world, providing analysis and thought-provoking debate regarding the best and most effective means of protecting America."
--Michael Greenberger, Director, Center for Health and Homeland Security and Professor, School of Law, University of Maryland

"City leaders have assumed extraordinary new roles in homeland security. This book is a very thoughtful exploration of fundamental issues and practical challenges that local leaders and policymakers face in securing our communities. It is an important contribution to our collective knowledge that will help us to meet the challenges that lie ahead."
--John DeStefano, Jr., Mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, and President, National League of Cities

"The expertise of long-time security practitioners makes First to Arrive a valuable resource for addressing security needs beyond the D.C. beltway and statehouses. This well-edited volume spans the wide spectrum of communities involved in preparedness planning, and gives specific recommendations to help local, state, and national responders and elected officials."
--Jane Harman, Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, and Member, National Commission on Terrorism


Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been preoccupied by the federal role in preparedness against terror attacks, and by ways to provide a quick fix through organizational overhauls. Airport security has been federalized, and Congress has approved a Cabinet-level homeland security agency. By contrast, national discussion of state and local preparedness has been largely absent.

First to Arrive argues that the best way for America to prepare for terrorism is to listen to people in the field; those working on the ground can guide decisions at the top. Many of the contributors are first responders who have long been dedicated to domestic preparedness; others are political scientists and historians who provide a broader context. They analyze critical but often overlooked issues, explain the operational needs of state and local governments, and provide practical solutions to the challenges of local and state domestic preparedness.

These essays grew out of a series of discussions held by the Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Begun before the September 11 attacks and continuing after them, they offer a guide to US domestic security in today's world.


Juliette N. Kayyem is a Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is co-author of  Preserving Security and Democratic Freedoms in the War on | Terrorism.

Robyn L. Pangi is a former research associate of the Kennedy School's Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness and co-editor of Countering Terrorism: Dimensions of Preparedness.


For more information about this publication please contact the ISP Program Coordinator at 617-496-1981.

For Academic Citation:

Juliette N. Kayyem, and Robyn L. Pangi, eds. First to Arrive: State and Local Responses to Terrorism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, September 2003.

Document Length: 239 pp. pp.

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