When we think of Homeland Security, most of us think of
it as a Washington, DC organization involving the FBI, the CIA, the Secret
Service, etc. Few of us stop to consider
the precautions being taken in smaller communities throughout the United States
to keep us safe from terrorism.
Although the following was written a few years back, security measures are still being taken, in ways we may not even be aware of, not only in Southwest Kansas, but in other communities nationwide as well.
"Sixty-eight percent of the world's beef is produced in a
triangular area from Dodge City west to the Colorado border, south to Amarillo,
Texas and back to Dodge," Stice said. "This includes range
cattle, feed lots, and the three Southwest Kansas packing plants -- National Beef,
Excel and IBP -- which process process a combined total of one million head of
livestock a day."
We Kansans have always felt
relatively safe what with a wide-open prairie surrounding us and a half
continent between us and terrorists and threats of like nature. However, we may not be as safe as we’d like
“Everyone is under the
impression that if anything happens, it will happen in New York, not here,”
said Mike Cox, Meade County Sheriff. “That’s not necessarily so. We, here in western Kansas, are vulnerable in
a number of ways. It’s possible for
anything to happen at any time, and we all need to stay aware—and alert.”
This is also the message of Meade County Emergency Management
Coordinator, Marvin Stice, who heads up a recently formed committee made up
of law enforcement personnel, businesses and individuals whose goal is to
address all areas of terrorist vulnerability in the county.
“Our office receives
upgraded Emergency Sensitive Notices from the FBI Intelligence Office
periodically—especially when a terrorist alert is changed,” Cox said. “With the 2nd anniversary of the terrorist
attacks approaching, we are prepared to take any precautionary measures
necessary—whatever the threat might be.
“For example, when the two
previous red alerts occurred—in October, 2001 and February 17 to May 29 of this
year—we were notified to beef up security at various Meade County facilities,”
he continued. “We had deputies on high
alert on an hourly basis; then after the level of the alert went to amber, we
continued monitoring the facilities with periodic drive-bys.
“Immediately after the
terrorist attack, we were notified to keep our eyes on airports—especially
spray planes which might be confiscated and used to spray toxic chemicals over
towns,” he added. “Since this is still
considered a threat, we check the airport on an ongoing basis.”
“We work closely with county
law enforcement officials as well as the KBI,” said Craig Stratton, who
operates a crop dusting service out of the Meade
airport. “Agents of the KBI checked all crop dusters in the state early on
to make sure that we each have all the planes we are supposed to have—and only
the planes we’re supposed to have. They
want to know where all crop dusters are at all times.”
With the threat to food
security high on the list of possible terrorist activity, the Meade County
Emergency Management Coordinator, as well as area farmers and ranchers, are
keeping a watchful eye on cattle, crops and grain elevators.
*“Bioterrorism has been a big
issue ever since 9/11 and our beef industry is considered a very vulnerable
target,” Stice said. “Sixty-eight
percent of the world’s beef is produced in a triangular area from Dodge City
west to the Colorado border, south to Amarillo, Texas and back to Dodge. This includes range cattle, feed lots and the
three Southwest Kansas packing plants—National Beef, Excel and IBP—which
process a combined total of one million head of livestock a day.
“One of the objectives of
our team,” he continued, “is to take every precaution possible to safeguard
these facilities, including any attempt to spread foreign animal diseases such
as foot and mouth disease, anthrax, etc.”
“If we receive a warning
that dangerous chemicals or toxins might be passing through the area, we are
prepared to shut down our main highways (54, 160 and 23) immediately and begin
inspecting carriers” Cox said.
“Although we’ve had no
serious incidents of any kind in the county and, thus far, reports have proved
to be false alarms, we intend to be on the ready in case there is an actual
emergency,” Stice said.
“The entire Southwest Kansas Medical Community has
been on the alert since the initial terrorist attacks,” said Mickey Thomas,
Director of Meade District Hospital. “We
watch for any indication of unusual viruses, poisons, small pox, etc., and are
carrying a heavier inventory of antibiotics and supplies. We also have a task force of aids standing by
if an emergency should occur.”
Although the date has not
yet been confirmed, a consortium of 17 Southwest Kansas hospitals are making
plans to conduct a bioterrorism mock disaster drill in October, he said.
With new diseases cropping
up worldwide, we are always on the alert,” said Michele Correll, Director of
the Meade County Health Department. “As a bioterrorism measure, we are working
with a six-county regional group, studying ways to identify and contain these
diseases should they appear.”
offices, schools, utility companies, etc. are notified during heightened alert.
“Everything changed on
9/11,” said Mark Goldsberry, Director of Lake
Meade State Park. “Although Lake
Meade is less vulnerable than the larger state lakes, we are always on the alert for unusual or unexplained fish kills,
bird die-offs, etc., as well as persons or activity of a suspicious
Goldsberry is a member of
the Southwest Kansas Regional Foreign Animal Disease Committee (FAD) as well as
the Meade County Emergency Planning Committee.
“The success of Homeland
Security depends on the involvement of the common people,” he said. “The cowboy riding the pens, the waitress in
a restaurant, the gas station attendant—any of us—may see or hear something
important to our security. The bottom
line is that we all remain aware and alert at all times.”
In addition to supporting
local antiterrorism planning groups, Darrell Yarnall, Senior Resident Agent for
the Garden City FBI office, suggests
that citizens be aware of who their neighbors are and report any suspicious
persons and/or activity to the FBI or to their local law enforcement officials.
“We are concerned most about people, fitting the terrorist profile, who might move into the area and assume a new identity, using this as a base to carry on terrorist activity,” he said.
Dodge City Daily Globe 8/29/03
*All statistics apply to 2003
Although this article was published in 1903, Marvin Stice, former Meade County Emergency Management Coordinator, has since informed us that agencies continue to remain alert for possible terrorist’s threats. Certain information in the article might also apply to other counties, states, etc. (Marvin Stice resigned as Coordinator in 2010).
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