Local officials looking for people 'where they shouldn't be'

December 22, 2003|HERB BROCK

Boyle County Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator Leonard Shepperson doesn't use high-tech jargon when discussing what an elevation in the terrorist alert status means to him.

"We basically just look for something or someone sitting somewhere they shouldn't be," said Shepperson.

Shepperson and other local emergency services personnel began looking for people and things "where they shouldn't be" over the weekend when Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced that the nation's terror alert status had been elevated to orange, the second highest in the color-coded system. Red is the highest.

Shepperson said he was notified of the change to the orange alert status by an e-mail from the state Emergency Management headquarters in Frankfort. He then passed on the notification to the heads of all local emergency agencies, including the county sheriff's department, the emergency medical services agency, the three local police chiefs, and city and county fire departments. Most of them also received separate notifications.


"We try to coordinate things in an emergency situation or crisis, and that includes dealing with terrorist alerts," Shepperson. "But our most important role is to make sure all our police, fire and emergency services people are notified. They're the people in the field and they know what to look for."

"In general, though, we're all basically looking for things or people out of the ordinary," he said. "This would be a vehicle parked for a long time outside a public building or a suspicious-looking person or group of people hanging around public buildings or places of high traffic, especially at odd hours."

Danville Assistant Police Chief Jay Newell said his department is notified of terrorist alert status upgrade by teletype from an agency attached to the National Crime Information Center of the FBI.

"We usually get a color code change notification from the NCIC, and that usually comes with very generalized information about the nature of the alleged threat," said Newell.

"In absence of a specific warning about a specific target or type of target, which normally is the case, we just go ahead and increase security in areas that we have determined to be possible targets," he said, declining "for obvious security reasons" to describe even the general nature of those possible targets.

"We basically make an extra show of security at these places to make sure anyone or any organization interested in doing something knows we're ready and they're being watched."

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