Members of the Wisconsin Homeland Security Council provided responses to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s questions about the state’s strengths and weaknesses in emergency preparedness since the 9/11 attacks.
Ever notice that semitrailer parked on Lombardi Avenue during Green Bay Packers home games? It’s there to prevent possible vehicles armed with explosives from getting anywhere close to Lambeau Field, said Green Bay police Lt. Jim Runge. That security tactic, often unnoticed by many, goes a long way toward ensuring fans’ safety, he said. Since 9/11, law enforcement agencies and emergency responders nationwide have received federal funding for new equipment and logged hours of special training to be prepared for a large-scale crisis.
Emergency responders at a Marinette High School hostage standoff last year struggled with malfunctioning cellphones and other communication problems, according to a newly released report on the deadly incident.
Town chairman Lee Engelbrecht says his hogs, sheep, heifers and feeder steers likely would stay put on the family farm if a disaster ever struck Point Beach Nuclear Plant, about a mile away, or Kewaunee Power Station, five miles north on Wisconsin 42. Engelbrecht, 57, didn’t think that was a very realistic possibility before 9/11 … or now. “Nobody living in Two Creeks has any fear about living near Point Beach,” says the lifelong resident on Two Creeks Road.
TOWN OF TWO CREEKS — Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials say there has never been a security breach into an American power plant. It’s certainly not a matter of luck, say staff members at the NRC and Wisconsin’s two nuclear power plants — Kewaunee Power Station and Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant in the town on the northern edge of Manitowoc County. Sara Cassidy, manager of nuclear communications for NextEra Point Beach, says the industry has spent $1.2 billion and many thousands of hours of training in the decade since 9/11 on security enhancements in response to NRC mandates.
ASHWAUBENON – At one point shortly after 9/11, security screeners at airports, including one in Northeastern Wisconsin, were confiscating so many potential weapons from departing passengers that they decided the contraband should be made into a display to serve as a warning.
Every year, state and local agencies in Wisconsin perform multiple exercises to test emergency response capabilities, funded by federal homeland security grants created after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Federal funding to protect key infrastructure grew after the 9/11 attacks, but has declined as overall homeland security funding has dropped sharply in Wisconsin. That has forced a shift in strategy away from protecting sites to responding more effectively if man-made or natural disasters occur. Part 2 of 3 in the series “Security after 9/11: 10 Years Later.”
Federal funding for much of the state’s homeland security effort, designed to prepare and protect Wisconsin in the event of terrorist attacks and other emergencies, is being drastically cut as Congress focuses on states that are more likely terrorism targets.