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Back to Archives | Back to January 2013 Contents 

The Indonesian National Police Standardized Emergency Management System: Conception to Implementation

By Nono Supriyono, Inspector General (Retired), Indonesian National Police; and Cosmas Lembang, Brigadier General, Indonesian National Police Staff, National Resilience Institute


he Indonesian National Police (INP) is the component within the national government of Indonesia tasked by statute for the primary role of maintaining security and order in society, enforcing laws, and providing services in order to maintain domestic security. The Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), adopted by the INP, is the legal umbrella under which the INP manages the response to a wide range of extraordinary police events such as tsunamis, earthquakes, flooding, volcano eruptions, and other disasters. It is an all-inclusive management philosophy that encompasses the emergency response phase as well as the predisaster and postdisaster phases. It is a whole-of -government approach practiced by the Indonesian government and also includes other domestic, international, nongovernmental organizations and foreign government assistance.

Background and Geography

The Republic of Indonesia is vast and located in an area where geographical, geological, hydrological, and demographic conditions create great vulnerability to a wide variety of disasters. Geographically speaking, the country is located at the meeting point of the Eurasian, Indo-Australian, and Pacific tectonic plates. The majority of the archipelago is affected by the Eurasian and Indo-Australian plates, which creates a subduction zone at their meeting point as one plate slides under the other. This subduction zone results in megathrust faults that are prone to causing violent, large-magnitude earthquakes and tsunamis.

Indonesia is an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands. Much of the population lives in coastal areas. Rising seas believed to be caused by global warming have caused a marked increase in coastal flooding. Extreme weather changes, also suspected to be caused by global warming, have resulted in abnormal climate trends causing higher than average rainfall and flooding in some areas, as well as drought in other areas. Volcanism has a major geological impact across the archipelago. There are approximately 150 active volcanoes within Indonesia that can erupt at any given time, resulting in massive earthquakes, lava flows, pyroclastic blasts, volcanic ash fallout, and fires. Three of the ten largest eruptions in recorded history have occurred in Indonesia.

Development of a SEMS

The need for a SEMS was highlighted during the December 2004 tsunami disaster in Aceh, located in the northern most province on the island of Sumatra. This single event caused widespread devastation to the entire South Asian and Southeast Asian regions of the world, with its impact continuing to be felt to this day. The effect on Indonesia shook society with its subsequent economic, social, cultural, and security issues; huge material losses; and the prolonged psychological impact that negatively affected hundreds of thousands of victims. This single event resulted in 264,000 victims either dead, injured, or missing.

The Indonesian government disaster response apparatus, which involved all disaster response disciplines as well as the disaster management agency (called BAKORNAS) in place at the time, was unable to adequately manage the disaster, which inhibited the government’s ability to respond quickly, effectively, or efficiently to meet the people’s needs. Furthermore, all of the responding stakeholders suffered from confusion and disorganization resulting from disconnected communication networks, paralyzed or destroyed infrastructure, and inadequate management structures in place at the time.

The INP, after debriefing and conducting a self-analysis of its response to the tsunami, realized that its day-to-day organization was not designed for or flexible enough to manage large disasters, requiring a coordinated comprehensive government approach. In 2006, the U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, Cameron Hume, offered the expertise of the U.S. Department of Justice, International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) to the Chief of the INP, General of Police Doctorandus (Drs.) Sutanto, to assist the INP in developing an incident response management system modeled after the U.S. Incident Command System (ICS). The ICS is used in numerous other countries around the world, in addition to the United States.

The ICS, a component of the SEMS, is an all-incident management system diverse enough to be used for planned events such as demonstrations, elections, and small emergencies, but also is appropriate for managing megadisasters such as the tsunami in Aceh. Drs. Sutanto agreed to the offer of assistance and requested that the U.S. government work with the INP to develop a SEMS that could be used by the INP anywhere within the archipelago to effectively respond to various types of emergencies in their communities.

The INP developed the SEMS training program between 2006 and 2007 with technical support from the U.S. Department of Justice, using funding from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. The INP’s Security Maintenance Agency, which included all of the uniformed services, was tasked with

  1. the development of a SEMS master instructors’ curriculum,
  2. an organization-wide training program, and
  3. the creation of a comprehensive organizational policy.

Lesson plans were developed that consisted of 14 learning modules as well as in-class simulation exercises. Due to workload requirements, the training was limited to five working days but encompassed approximately 52 hours of work and study. INP leaders also agreed to excuse students from routine tasks and not allow them to be summoned out of the training by their superiors.

SEMS at a Glance

The SEMS adopted by the INP serves as an emergency management tool and legal mandate governing police response to a wide range of extraordinary events, includintg including the myriad naturral disasters common to the Indonesian archipelago.

During discussions and planning sessions with various Indonesian government partners, such as the department of public works, the health department, the fire department, local government and community protection, the media, and other volunteers a wide range of differing emergency response policies were revealed. This made coordination and cooperation exceptionally difficult to manage. Polling of cross sections of the Indonesian government on inhibiting factors to an effective emergency response by government personnel within Indonesia revealed consistent and overwhelming opinions defined by six primary shortfalls:

  1. Lack of cooperation or poor coordination
  2. Lack of training or skill-sets
  3. Poor management of resources,
  4. Interdisciplinary egocentric attitudes
  5. Lack of or inadequate planning
  6. Lack of accountability

Through across-the-board adoption of SEMS incorporated policies, procedures, and training, the INP was able to dramatically improve government delivery of humanitarian aid to victims, almost entirely eliminating the previously identified obstacles to a comprehensive government approach—the ultimate goal of the INP.

The ICS concept has been used extensively in the United States since 1968 and has undergone numerous improvements over time through the review and the application of lessons learned. Other developed countries throughout the world have similarly embraced ICS to manage and deal with a wide range of crises as well. An ICS is an intrical part of SEMS, is used during the response phase, and is the management system used when responding to emergencies at the field level, where the incident is actually being managed and resolved. During recent meetings involving countries belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the SEMS model used by the INP has been adopted as the mechanism utilized when mutual aid is provided to member countries.

SEMS Implementation in the INP Environment

The socialization of SEMS occurs by the ICITAP at INP headquarters and the head-of-region level through a four-hour executive overview. The SEMS trainings, with the assistance of ICITAP, produced more than 1,600 SEMS master instructors. SEMS training was implemented geographically in three phases:

Phase 1: Poldas (provincial area police) in the western regions (10 Poldas in 2008)
Phase 2: Poldas in the eastern regions (11 Poldas between 2009 and 2010)
Phase 3: Poldas in the central region (6 Poldas, between 2011 and 2013)

To disseminate master instructors, the INP adopted a two-pronged approach. First, master instructors were established in each region so that field personnel received SEMS training. Secondly, the INP instituted SEMS at all INP training institutions so that new personnel would be exposed to the concepts before they went into the field. Curriculum and master instructors were incorporated at the INP educational institutions to teach students from every educational facility. The INP Specialization Education and Development Section of the SEMS curriculum consisted of eight components that were taught at every school, reaching a diverse audience ranging from entry-level personnel to senior management. All of the SEMS courses are taught in a format so that the students eventually become the trainers for all of the SEMS courses taught at the various institutes.

During the trainings in the Poldas (provincial area police districts), other stakeholders such as the department of public works, the health department, the fire department, local government and community protection, the media, and other volunteers were included in the process.

The INP realized that unlike in the past, each respective discipline could no longer continue to work in a vacuum. Integrated training and cooperation were major components of ICS. The INP immediately enhanced its disaster management regulations. Utilizing ICITAP technical assistance, the INP pushed the implementation of SEMS into legislation. This process took two years’ worth of INP committee meetings as well as buy-in from the Indonesian government. The INP, with the publication of this regulation, now is required to use SEMS in managing disasters. The regulation states that the SEMS model can be used for managing natural disasters or planned events such as securing sporting events, music concerts, VIP visits, conferences, and any social-or political-related demonstrations.

This regulation complements the chief of the Indonesia National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s regulation establishing the ICS concept as the national response management system. The police policy regulation provides even greater guidance and specifics regarding the management of field-level response activities. The final police regulation governing SEMS was signed into law by the Ministry of Law and Human Rights on December 22, 2009, nearly five years to the day after the devastating tsunami in Aceh.


Keeping in mind that SEMS is a new paradigm for the INP, there are still numerous challenges in implementing the process. Naturally, there is always the tendency to gravitate toward what is familiar when confronted with adversity, and there is often a propensity to mix old police practices with new ones when implementing SEMS.

Personnel rotations within the INP’s regions and its subdivisions and educational institutions do not fully take into account the need for continuity and dedicated role of the SEMS master instructor. Therefore, the Polda (provincial area police) are always seeking SEMS Master Instructors. INP educational institutions still lack the confidence to independently conduct SEMS trainings for their students, causing them to continually ask for guidance from the ICITAP. The majority of the INP’s educational institutions have developed SEMS curricula, but those graduates from schools lacking the SEMS specific training have left training gaps with some of their future field personnel. At the same time, socialization of the new regulation relating to the implementation of the SEMS model has not been fully executed by INP headquarters and the Poldas; therefore, not all INP supervisory personnel have a full understanding of the policy.

Efforts Made by the INP

The challenges previously mentioned are not insurmountable. The INP is a massive organization making information transfer burdensome, but its personnel still need to comply with the Kapolri Regulation, no. 17 year 2009, and national laws. The INP is making headway in its efforts to overcome the obstacles in order to uniformly implement SEMS to all its members.

The INP is in the process of forming a team of lead master instructors with the specific task to develop other SEMS master instructors at the national police schools. The group also is also striving to be active participants in the SEMS curriculum development meetings at all INP educational levels. The INP has installed SEMS trainings within the educational curriculum for students and instructors in the majority of all educational levels ranging from the National Police School to the INP’s Advanced Staff and Command College.

Before the educational institutions provide SEMS training to students there are refresher courses for the instructors that are provided by ICITAP. The intent for long-term sustainability is for the lead master instructors to eventually take this role over from ICITAP.


The INP already has started the institutional process of socializing and implementing SEMS. This originally began with the socialization phases in the regions, training sessions to produce SEMS master instructors, the incorporation of the SEMS curriculum into the INP’s educational institutions, and the development of new organization-wide policies. Field personnel already have used SEMS for responding to natural disasters, transportation accidents, planned events, and elections. SEMS has even been used for providing security at international sporting events such as the Southeast Asian Games.

Through the use of the SEMS model, the previously identified shortcomings reflected in the lack of of cooperation, coordination, and accountability have significantly improved. While the National Disaster Mitigation Agency has been formed to manage overall disaster response in the country, it has yet to assume full functionality. In the void, the INP is the best trained in the principles of ICS and has filled the gap by working with and training other disciplines to improve the delivery of sevices and aid to the victims of disaster.

Ongoing efforts are being made to overcome the internal and external challenges facing the INP regarding the implementation of SEMS throughout Indonesia. Implementing the SEMS/ICS systems throughout the country will allow the INP to be standardize in their response and invoke public confidence in their ability to repsond to various disasters and therefore protect life, property, society, and the environment from public disorders and disasters. ♦

Please cite as:

Nono Supriyono and Cosmas Lembang, "The Indonesian National Police Standardized Emergency Management System: Conception to Implementation," , The Police Chief 80 (January 2013): 44–46.



From The Police Chief, vol. LXXX, no. 1, January 2013. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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