Citizen Corps Program

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Citizen Corps is the component of USA Freedom Corps that coordinates public education, training, and volunteer opportunities to engage all citizens in making their families, homes, and communities safer and better prepared to respond to threats of crime, terrorism, and disasters of all kinds. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) central mission is disaster mitigation, preparedness, and response, and the interface with state and local governments, the President asked FEMA to take the lead in coordinating Citizen Corps across the nation.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) has identified Citizen Corps as a benefit to the State of Indiana, its communities, and the well-being of all Hoosiers. As the State of Indiana's central coordinating office for the service and volunteer sectors across the State, IDHS was chosen as the State of Indiana's Point of Contact for Citizen Corps efforts.

Citizen Corps brings together leaders from law enforcement, the fire, rescue, and emergency medical services, emergency management, volunteer organizations, the private sector, and elected officials to form local Citizen Corps Councils. These Councils provide local oversight for engaging citizens in homeland security and for promoting community preparedness and family safety in three principal areas: public education and outreach; training opportunities; and volunteer programs that draw on special skills and interests.

National Mission

The mission of Citizen Corps is to harness the power of every individual through education, training, and volunteer service to make communities safer and better prepared to respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, public health issues, and any kind of disaster. 


The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program develops and trains teams in neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools in basic disaster response skills, including fire suppression, urban search and rescue, and medical operations. Administered by FEMA, the CERT program provides an opportunity for citizens to take an active role in local emergency preparedness.  More information on the CERT program.


The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program coordinates volunteer health professionals and others interested in public health issues to provide ongoing support for community public health needs and resources during large-scale emergencies. The MRC is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  More information on the MRC program.


The Fire Corps program strengthens relationships between citizens and local fire departments, whether volunteer, career, or combined. It is managed and implemented through a partnership between the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). Fire Corps provides citizens with opportunities to augment the capabilities of fire departments in areas other than fire suppression.  More information on the Fire Corps program.

The Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program incorporates the time and skills that volunteers can contribute to augment community law enforcement agencies. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) manages the VIPS Program in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice (DOJ). More information on the VIPS program.

USAonWatch is the face of the Neighborhood Watch (NW) program. It incorporates terrorism awareness and education into the “eyes and ears” crime prevention mission of NW, empowering citizens to be active in homeland security efforts through community participation. USAonWatch is managed nationally by the National Sheriffs' Association in partnership with the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs. More information on the USAonWatch program.

CERT Toolkit

This toolkit was designed by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to assist county emergency management agencies in recruiting citizens and keeping trained CERT members active. It contains customizable public outreach materials such as posters, public service announcements and press releases.