|Oregon readies for red
Expect searches and
restrictions in public buildings.
Oregonians can expect
searches of bags and briefcases, restricted entry to public
buildings and parking lots, delays in traffic — and maybe a
lot more — if the local situation triggers a red alert for
But as of Wednesday night, after the
United States launched the first cruise missiles in a war
against Iraq, the state alert level remained at orange —
indicating a high likelihood of terrorist attacks. It was the
same as the federal alert level.
“Everything is the same right now,” said
Mary Ellen Glynn, spokeswoman for Gov. Ted Kulongoski. “The
state police see no reason for the alert level to go up. There
is no specific threat to Oregon.”
Kulongoski was scheduled to return home
today from a trade mission to China. Glynn said the governor
may make himself available for comment upon his arrival at
Portland International Airport.
He is expected to land in Seattle
Thursday morning and should be in Salem by midday.
The national alert may go to red,
indicating a severe likelihood of terrorist attacks, once the
United States goes to war.
State officials said Oregon would follow
a federal upgrade of the national terrorism alert to its
highest level if and when they hear about a threat to a
specific location or facility within the state.
“At this point we do not intend to deploy
additional people beyond those we already have around this
state,” said Superintendent Ronald Ruecker of the Oregon State
Police, the lead agency for security planning in the state and
the liaison with the federal Homeland Security
But the state police Web site posted a
list of heightened security measures for critical sites,
actions by local governments and expectations from the public
if there is a red alert and a specific threat to
Working with the state police, state
agencies and local governments have been assessing security
risks and planning for various possibilities since the
terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the East Coast.
Counties have key responsibilities for coordinating plans for
Things were quiet Wednesday in Portland.
A single policeman stood in an otherwise empty Pioneer
Courthouse Square, the usual gathering place for
“(Today) will probably be a fun day,”
said Sgt. Brian Schmautz, police spokesman. “We have a lot of
information on potential protests and some information on
rallies to support the troops. Hopefully everyone can come and
go to work and have a good time.”
Marion County Commissioner Mike Ryan said
this area is in, “a heightened state of readiness.”
Sheriff Raul Ramirez said deputies are
paying close attention to public works, looking for anything
out of the ordinary, and keeping in touch with other agencies.
But he said vigilance is not only the job of law enforcement
“We’re going to be looking to our
citizens to be our eyes and ears, because we can’t do it
alone,” he said. “A lot of the time, the leads we get about
suspicious activity come from the public.”
On the other hand, Ramirez said, people
should not panic or overreact.
“If the public is in any way in harm’s
way, we will certainly communicate that,” he said.
Peter Wong can be
reached at (503) 399-6745.
Among the actions that people can expect
if there is a specific threat and Oregon State Police raise
the state alert level for terrorist attacks to severe
Bags and briefcases will be searched
before people are permitted to enter some public
Some buildings will be restricted to the
public or even put off-limits.
Some parking lots will be put off-limits
to the public, and cars entering some lots will be subject to
visual inspection and search.
Since early this year, 15 free two-hour
parking spaces in front of the Capitol have been chained off
from public access, except through prearrangement for school
and tour buses.
Streets and highways may be closed off in
some areas near critical buildings and sites.
Police officers and others may work
longer shifts and leaves will be canceled.
Security will be stepped up at key public
buildings, airports, power plants and other
People will be asked to prepare for
emergencies, based on advice from the U.S. Homeland Security
Department on food and water, communications plans and other
People will be asked to monitor news
reports and Emergency Alert System broadcasts.
Reporter Cara Roberts
Murez and The Associated Press contributed to this
The Oregon State Police Web
site, through its Office of Public Safety and Security,
lists detailed explanations of security expectations at
various stages of terrorist alerts. It also provides links to
other sites. The U.S. Homeland
Security Department has posted a guide about what people
can do to prepare for emergencies.