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Local Police Plan for Act of Terrorism

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – What would "first responders" do in the event of a terrorist attack in the Buffalo Niagara region? Local police, fire and FBI agents received advice at a terrorism seminar held in Buffalo Monday.

A national law enforcement official says building relationships now within the community is "key" to dealing with any possible terrorist attack in this region. Sam Gonzales, now with the FBI, was chief of police when a bomb tore apart the Murrah Federal building in April of 1995 in Oklahoma City. Prior to 9/11, Gonzales began traveling around the country to participate in terrorism seminars.

"In the first several hours after a major incident, the only asset you will have is what the community can bring to the table," Gonzales explained. "It is extremely important to reach out beyond Buffalo police and fire departments so that if it (terrorism) happens here, they will know where the resources come from and build those relationships now before something happens."

Coincidentally, Monday's seminar in Buffalo was held just one day after Vice President Dick Cheny said that another terrorist attack on the U.S. is "almost certain."

"The Vice President is saying that in the next three to five years we will probably have another incident. Hopefully not as large and maybe not by the same people, but we can look for something else to happen, Gonzales continued. "So it is extremely important that we continue prepare and plan."

Gonzales says first responders must prepare for logistical issues in the event of a local terrorist attack. Local police, fire and the FBI must know how to set up "crime scene" parameters and establish a plan for dealing with the media, elected leaders and volunteers.

He says first responders faced those issues following the attacks at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Oklahoma City federal building.