Longtime resident Vera Markowitz and Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) Acting Captain Max Subin walked into Pascal on Beverly Drive in the midst of the Saturday brunch crowd on June 5. Markowitz, laden with a stack of glossy flyers for the city’s new Just In Case BH program, made a beeline for the cashier; Subin, weighed down by his utility belt, followed close behind.
The cashier, sensing that this might be above his pay grade, fetched Pascal owner Bruno Marcy. On cue, Markowitz gave him her pitch for Just In Case, the city’s effort to harden its communities for potential threats and crises.
“We’re trying to get everyone together so we can all work together in case there’s something that may need help,” she said.
At this stage of the nascent program, all Markowitz requested of Marcy was to place a Just In Case BH sticker in a prominent location on the restaurant’s window. As with every business she and Subin visited that day, Marcy obliged.
Just in Case BH, “a neighborhood-based emergency preparedness program” proposed by Vice Mayor Lili Bosse, seeks to bring together residents, businesses, and city agencies in the event of city-wide disasters.
The impetus for the program comes from the many shocks of the last year. “All of that has taught people that they need to have community support and the community can work together in such a way that we’re all better for it,” Markowitz, who heads the program’s advisory committee, told the Courier.
Teams representing police, fire, and residents, have been making the rounds through the city’s nine zones, geographic subdivisions organized around emergency centers and led by a zone coordinator. On June 5 and 6, Markowitz, Subin, and others made their way through Zone 8, the neighborhoods south of Wilshire Boulevard and east of Beverly Drive.
Not all of this was explained to the businesses that Markowitz connected with on Saturday. At this point, she is focused on introducing people to the program in bite-sized pieces, encouraging them to visit the website for more information. As the Just In Case BH stickers become more ubiquitous, she hopes residents will also grow more familiar with the program. Hopefully, from there, they will become more involved.
At the same time, Markowitz says that the program is preparing for the next phase, nearing completion of an emergency manual that the city will distribute to each residence. “So, we’re now working on how we’re going to communicate with everyone in a large emergency,” she said. “What are we going to do when there’s that big explosion? What are we going to do when there’s a big fire? What are we going to do when there’s a big earthquake?”
Anticipating the possibility of a telecommunications outage, Just In Case BH pushed for a city-wide siren system. City staff estimated the city will need a total of 12 sirens spread out across the city to reach all residents. The City Council instructed staff to move forward with a pilot program at its April 20 regular meeting.
In moments of crisis, as the city saw when unrest on May 20 led to vandalism and property damage, police will not always have the resources or bandwidth to respond to every emergency. “During an emergency, every second counts,” Beverly Hills Fire Chief Greg Barton said in a promotional video for the program. “During a major disaster, firefighters and police officers will be responding as quickly as possible, but your role in being prepared, connected, and self-sufficient is critical to keep you, your friends and your loved ones informed and safe.”