“We’ve been required to bump up security due to Osama bin Laden’s death,” John Stanley, director of the Office of Homeland Security, told the police Webster Parish Police Jury at their regular monthly meeting held this past Tuesday.
“This is an opportune time for someone to snag some headlines, and I don’t think they will come from overseas. I think they will be local, like it was in Oklahoma.”
Stanley was referring to the recent killing of America’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and the Oklahoma City bomb attack on a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.
It was the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil until the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, which were orchestrated by bin Laden. Homegrown terrorists Timothy McVeigh, Michael and Lori Fortier and Terry Nichols were all arrested for the Oklahoma City bombing.
Stanley said the Office of Homeland Security is making subtle changes and has beefed up security around the Webster Parish Courthouse entrances. Stanley said the Sheriff’s Office makes routine checks on other buildings and Homeland Security is working toward camera monitoring of other government buildings and schools.
“This isn’t something we’ll do on a daily basis and we won’t be spying on people,” Stanley said. “We want all camera systems in one secure location so we can check if it we need to.”
At the police jury meeting, Stanley urged the jurors and those in the audience to pay attention to their surroundings.
“I just want everyone to be a little more careful in your daily lives,” Stanley cautioned. “If you’re suspicious, tell somebody. If you see it, report it. We will and do investigate claims and we want to be safe.”
Stanley said suspicious activity includes people loitering and taking pictures in unusual spots and anything out of the ordinary from the everyday routine. Stanley said the easiest way to make a report is by dialing 9-1-1.
“Don’t hesitate to report suspicious activity,” Stanley said. “If it’s nothing that’s okay, but it might be something we can catch before it’s too late. Report it so you don’t have to be the one saying, ‘I wish I would have’ if it turns out to be something.”
According to Stanley, all military bases have had to change protocol and heighten security efforts. Each year, Camp Minden conducts a closed drill that involves a military issue.
This year, the Department of Defense required the drill be one on terrorism. Early this morning, another drill was conducted at Camp Minden that included emergency officials from Bossier and Webster parishes.
More information and pictures on that drill will be in Monday’s edition of the Minden Press-Herald.