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Terrorist attacks changed security
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The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks forever changed the way America views security, from government eavesdropping on phone calls to tighter security at airports.
As we approach the 10-year anniversary of that fateful day this Sunday, it’s an opportune time to examine how Warren County has adapted. While average citizens may not notice much of a change, law enforcement remains mindful of any possible terrorist threat.
“One thing the FBI pays careful attention to is information coming from the state and local levels,” said McMinnville Police Chief Bryan Denton. “They know we are in touch with what’s going on in our areas so we’re always careful to keep our eyes open, not let our guard down, and keep open the lines of communication. I just sent two detectives to an FBI district meeting last week in Knoxville where there was a briefing on what’s happening with the 10-year anniversary approaching. There was information something might be planned to coincide with that anniversary.”
Public surveillance cameras have become more accepted in the aftermath of 9/11. In a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey, 71 percent of Americans favor surveillance cameras in public places to watch for suspicious activity.
There are two public cameras in McMinnville on Court Square. They were put in place by the Chamber of Commerce as a way to promote tourism by constantly broadcasting what’s happening on Court Square over the Internet.
Anyone can view the downtown activity captured on the surveillance cameras by going to the website and clicking on the link, “See what’s happening downtown.”
McMinnville city administrator David Rutherford says there has been talk of installing more cameras downtown to record a possible event should one occur. He said the Chamber cameras broadcast, but do not record.
“They would be used to reconstruct a situation to give us a better of idea of what happened,” said Rutherford. “We are not in a position, and don’t have the manpower, to be constantly monitoring the cameras to dispatch people live.”
Rutherford says he gave a 30-minute presentation to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen this summer on ways to condense the current 500- to 600-page safety manual into a more workable format.
“We want to be able to find things on a quick basis because you never know when something is going to happen that you haven’t thought about,” said Rutherford.
Denton said police officers pay special attention to monitoring water department and power facilities. He said terrorists know a quick way to impact a large number of people is by tainting the water supply or knocking out an electrical grid.
Warren County Utility District general manager Mike Green says regulations have always required the water department to keep a close eye on its chemicals and the surroundings.
“We have to keep things locked up and most of our property is required to be fenced in,” said Green. “We’re also on the lookout for any type of spills or any contamination that can get in a water tank or a water source like a river.”
Green says he receives e-mail alerts if there is possible contamination anywhere in the region. On a sidenote, Sept. 11 is also his birthday.