Terrorism A Common Threat To Police Departments

Experts say the 911 attacks proved that terrorism doesn't happen just on international shores. FBI agent Gerald Wheeler told police chiefs meeting in Biloxi that foreign terrorists get all the attention. But Wheeler says there are about 400 domestic terrorist groups that are just as dangerous.

"If you look at the events of October, 2001 when we started getting all the calls on the anthrax letters after the actual anthrax incident, that affected every community in this country because we had to respond to that police departments in small towns, large towns, didn't matter because that impacted everybody."

Wheeler told the chiefs good relations with citizens are crucial, to share information and to watch out for suspicious activity.

"Always be aware of it, keep a check on everything cause we gotta rail system that runs through there from time to time a lotta trains come through there and we're aware that they carry hazardous material," Chief R. J. Loveberry of the Crenshaw Police Department said.

"We have been in our schools in the City of Columbia educating our administrators. We also have a parachute factory and certainly that's a very important place for terrorists to strike so we're doin' everything we can to educate the citizens in our city," Columbia Police Chief Jimmy Stringer said.

Turf battles between departments have always been common, but since 9-11 the chiefs say there is no room for egos, that agencies must work together to protect the communities they serve against terrorism.

"There's a lot of tension among local agencies, fire departments and police departments and I think that has been improved tremendously," Indianola Police Chief Carver Randle said.

The chiefs say terrorist threats are now a way of life, and public safety has to be prepared to deal with them no matter the cost.