Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Security to remain same for Sept. 11



By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Security at airports, office towers and public events is expected to be no different on Sept. 11 than on any other day.

And that, security experts say, is a sign of progress.

They say steady improvement in homeland security since the Sept. 11 attacks two years ago means special security measures are unnecessary to safeguard the public.

State, local and federal officials say they are better prepared than ever to prevent an attack and to respond if an attack occurs. While they concede there still is much work to be done, they say security far exceeds that of two years ago.

"It's improved a lot and it's getting better," said Michael Snowden, operations manager of Hamilton County's Emergency Management Agency.

Since the attacks, government agencies have formed security task forces, acted out disaster scenarios, improved anti-terrorism training programs and purchased a wide range of chemical and biological protection equipment.

Snowden said the improvements in training and security are put to good use every day, not just on the anniversary of Sept. 11.

"There's nothing out of the ordinary that we're planning," he said.

All that could change, though, if the national terror alert level rises from yellow to orange or red.

Such a change would trigger heightened security across Greater Cincinnati: Cars would be searched at the airport. Police would increase patrols at bridges and railroad terminals. Extra security guards would be assigned to government buildings.

For now, though, no such changes are expected. "Unless there is specific intelligence about a threat - which there is not - we are business as usual," said Jim Turgal, FBI spokesman in Cincinnati. "There is nothing out there right now."

He said the FBI has been working closely with state and local agencies during the past two years to improve day-to-day security.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force, created after the terrorist attacks, has grown from 20 members to 39 in the past year. The task force, made up of law enforcers, responds to attacks and investigates potential threats.

E-mail dhorn@enquirer.com




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