AUGUST 22, 2012
As cities across the nation suffer through difficult financial times, one Texas municipality is making headlines for dropping more than half a million dollars to produce internet videos that supposedly teach people how properly react in public safety emergencies.
A Houston Public Safety and Homeland Security office created to protect the area against terror attacks and natural disasters has doled out $540,000 to make three short videos, according to a local newspaper story. Federal Homeland Security Grant funds were used to produce the films, which deal with public safety scenarios and can be viewed on the city’s website in English and Spanish.
The latest video, called “Run, Hide, Fight,” lasts six minutes and cost $200,000 to make, the news story says. It was filmed inside a new city building and addresses the July shooting at a Colorado movie theater more than 1,000 miles away. Twelve people were killed and dozens of others were wounded during a movie premiere in Aurora. “Run, Hide, Fight” provides key steps individuals should take in Houston when encountering an active shooter, according to a press release issued to promote the video.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Aurora’s tragic shooting, along with their friends, family and community,” Houston Mayor Annise Parker says in the release. “I can’t imagine the horror and grief. If it is at all possible for any good to come out of it, perhaps it can be letting people know the options to consider if it happens again.”
As the new film’s title indicates, the first piece of advice is to run if a safe path is available. Encourage others to leave with you and get out even if others pressure you to stay. Those who can’t get out, should hide then turn out lights, lock doors and silence their cell phone ringer, the video says. As a last resort, act with aggression and use improvised weapons to fight. The city could have simply posted these common-sense tips on its web site and saved taxpayers a couple hundred grand.
Before releasing this enlightening, blockbuster video Houston officials doled out $140,000 to produce another one (“Make the Call”) featuring a man who leaves a backpack in an open-air restaurant. It encourages citizens to alert authorities of suspicious activities that may be related to a terrorist attack. Prior to that, the city blew $200,000 on yet another public safety film titled “Are you Ready?”
Anyone who sees the videos’ rather poor and amateurish qualities may wonder about the high cost of making them. Here is the explanation, direct from the government via the newspaper that broke the story; the Department of Homeland Security demands that the videos imitate real life situations and that they use characters that can depict those situations.
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