September 18, 2014

Report details Homeland Security efforts

Wisconsin’s Homeland Security Council is out with its annual report on the state’s efforts to handle major emergencies. The report provides an overview of programs that are in place to help state and local officials respond quickly in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Major General Don Dunbar, the state’s Homeland Security Advisor, says it shows how the state has focused on keeping existing programs going strong before expanding new initiatives and making sure funding gets through to law enforcement and local projects.

Dunbar says funding issues have been difficult to accomplish as federal money has decreased, including a $3 million drop between 2011 and 2012. For the current fiscal year, the state only received about $2.8 million, with about one million of that going to help launch the state’s WISCOM system in April. WISCOM is an interagency communication system that Dunbar says will help solve problems agencies have had to deal with in the past during emergency situations.

Other priorities include fusion centers, aimed at monitoring possible domestic terrorism threats. Dunbar says several recent attacks and disrupted terrorist plots around the world show the threat is not abating. He says the fusion centers provide a way for officials to gather information from local sources, which can then be used to evaluate possible threats.

While Dunbar says officials remain vigilant for possible terrorist threats, they must also make sure the state is ready for the next flood or winter storm. He says it’s important to not lose perspective on emergencies officials are certain the state will face.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:13)