Posts Tagged ‘terrorist’

Homeland Security Commissioners, Sheriffs Frustrated With Lack of Progress

By Sean Whaley | 1:41 pm April 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Members of Nevada’s Homeland Security Commission expressed frustration today that more than eight years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, local law enforcement and other emergency responders still can’t communicate with each other when responding to an emergency.

Commission member and former Clark County Sheriff Jerry Keller said the lack of interoperable communications was a major problem in responding to those terrorist attacks, and Nevada still faces the issue after spending millions of dollars in federal funds in an effort to prepare for and prevent terrorist attacks.

“We’ve spent $200 million dollars of federal money in the state of Nevada, and we’re still in the same boat,” he said.

Keller said he would like a report at the next commission meeting on the status of the communications issue that would include a timeline on when the problem will be solved.

Robert Wideman, the newly hired interoperable communications coordinator for Nevada, said he shares the concerns expressed by Keller.

“I think your analysis of what has happened is spot on,” he said. “I guess my approach in the time I have been here is not to point fingers at anyone on what they did or didn’t do right, but rather to find a strategy to lead us out of this.”

Keller said: “I don’t want to point fingers, I just want a date.”

Commissioner and Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley said he would like to see a document showing where interoperability remains an issue.

“Because we do have interoperability and operability within certain regions of this state, and there are projects to connect those areas that don’t have it,” he said. “I think we need to clear the air by having folks in this room that are qualified to explain where those things occur presently and where we need to focus our attention at.”

Commissioner and Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie agreed, saying progress has been made on interoperability since the terrorist attacks of 2001. But there are factors state emergency responders don’t have control over, he said.

“It’s not just the voice information that needs to be shared, it’s the data information that needs to be shared,” Gillespie said.

“I share my former boss’s frustration in dealing with this particular issue because we never actually seem to get there,” he said. “We keep moving but then the target gets moved on us.”

Gibbons Says Nevada Airports Safe for Travelers, Criticizes Obama Administration for Failing to Prevent Terrorist Attack

By Sean Whaley | 1:50 pm December 30th, 2009

RENO – Gov. Jim Gibbons said air travelers should feel safe passing through Nevada’s two major airports despite last week’s attempted terrorist attack at Detroit, but he also strongly criticized the Obama Administration for failing to take proper actions to head off the failed attempt to blow up an airplane.

He also called on the administration’s Homeland Security Chief, Janet Napolitano, to resign.

Gibbons made his comments during a tour of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, where he reviewed safety and security procedures including a demonstration of the facility’s bomb sniffing dog teams.

“I want to assure the people of Nevada, and those coming to Nevada, that our airports, Reno-Tahoe as well as the Las Vegas airport, have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the traveling public is safe here,” Gibbons said.

But he also said the Obama Administration failed the traveling public by not “connecting the dots” to prevent suspected terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas day. Abdulmutallab is suspected of attempting to detonate an explosive device in his underwear on the approach to the Detroit airport.

“They had the information available to them,” Gibbons said. “Then they tried to comfort the public by saying the system worked. When you have a failure like that, it’s not working.

“I think it is a result of this administration going back to treating terrorism like a crime, waiting until the act has been committed,” he said. “It’s failed the public. They need to take steps to show the public that they’ve taken the action to correct that. They need to make sure this never happens again.”

On the tour, Brian Kulpin, director of marketing and public affairs for the Reno airport, said those traveling through the facility will see an increased security presence as a result of the failed bombing attempt.

The airport is one of about 80 across the U.S. that has a canine explosive detection team, he said. The dog and police officer teams spent a lot of time examining cargo, but they can detect explosives on a passenger passing by as well.

The tour did not include all security areas, such as the baggage handling system. Gibbons said he has seen those areas but would not comment on any security procedures.

Kulpin said the airport’s new $63 million baggage handling system unveiled in November is so advanced for screening that other airport officials are coming to see it in operation.

The Reno airport is the 62nd busiest airport in the U.S. with nearly four million passengers passing through each year.

Gibbons and the media in attendance did get to see the airport’s $4.6 million Emergency Operations Center, which was relocated out of the main terminal area for enhanced security in 2006. Cameras showed various areas of the terminal and airport tarmac.

After the tour, Gibbons said he does not advocate the use of profiling passengers by race or ethnicity to detect terrorists as is done in some other countries. Using a terrorist profile, which would look at an individual’s associations and other factors, is appropriate, he said.