Sunday, June 30, 2002

Terror alerts necessary, Tristate officials say




By Jim Hannah jhannah@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tristate emergency management officials say the alerts issued by the federal government are just one of the tools they use to prepare for a possible terrorist attack.

        The FBI has issued an alert to state and local law enforcement agencies across the country about the possibility of a terrorist attacks during the Fourth of July holiday.

        Federal officials said the threats were too vague to justify a public warning.

        A spokesman for the Greater Cincinnati Hazardous Materials Unit confirmed the agency received the alert.

        Spokesman Bob Welch said the unit gets e-mails from two different sources on a regular basis that give updates on various threats.

        The unit covers nine counties in Greater Cincinnati, including Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana.

        “We get these (alerts) on a routine basis, including the warning about the Fourth,” he said. “We go over them, talk about the possibility, and make sure we are prepared.”

        Mr. Welch said the group made sure it had enough people in town to respond to any threat over the holiday weekend and made sure that equipment was “combat ready.”

        For example, he said, emergency response officials have planned for weeks for any possible problem at the fireworks display Tuesday at Harbin Park in Fairfield, Butler County.

        Cincinnati Police Spokesman Lt. Kurt Byrd didn't return phone calls Saturday afternoon.

        “I think the FBI has done an excellent job of providing information to law enforcement across the country to potential threats,” Maj. Jack Banks of the Boone County Sheriff's Department said.

        “I think the alerts are necessary. I would emphasize no specific targets have been identified.”

        Maj. Banks, who serves as the spokesman for the Boone County Emergency Management, compared the alert to a tornado watch.

        “I think it is much better that we receive an alert rather than not have the information we need to respond,” Maj. Banks said. “Many times, tornadoes don't occur, but it is much better to know the conditions do exist so you can be prepared to respond.”

        Boone County is home to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

       



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