Las Vegas Sun

September 22, 2014

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State network to battle terrorism

CARSON CITY - Using $6.5 million in federal money, state officials plan to create a network of counterterrorism centers in Las Vegas and Reno to help detect and prevent attacks.

These centers will be staffed by local and federal law enforcement officers who will gather and share information that may relate to Nevada, said Frank Siracusa, director of the state Emergency Planning Office.

"If somebody gets information, it will not sit with that one person," Siracusa said.

That has been a major complaint among Nevada officials who have been blindsided in the past by federal officials who have not shared information.

While that relationship appears to have improved, the concept of these centers is to put all of the people who need to know in close proximity.

Metro Police Deputy Chief Mike McClary said the centers would be charged with "connecting the dots" to determine patterns of suspicious activity. The idea is to share - and analyze - information gathered by police, firefighters and other so-called first responders.

For instance, a suspicious fire may occur in one city unbeknownst to police elsewhere investigating such activities.

Information will also be shared between the state and federal governments.

Siracusa said the goal of the centers is to "catch something before it happens."

The counterterrorism centers are part of a larger $19 million anti-terrorism program awaiting approval by the state Homeland Security Commission and Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Officials want to spend $6 million to integrate the communications systems .

This has long been a goal of state officials.

Mark Blomstrom, deputy director of the state Department of Information Technology, said the goal is to permit public safety agencies to communicate with one another during major emergencies.

Metro Police officials are also reworking their communications center to fit into the state system.

"These are the most important things we have done since 9/11," McClary said. "Our economy is built around and sustained by tourism.

"The focus has to be on preventing an event and having the capacity to respond if one occurs."

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