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Homeland security commission to keep open doors

By Anjeanette Damon
Date: October 07, 2003

computer crime The commission created to oversee Nevada’s homeland security efforts will hold open meetings, despite a state law allowing it to conduct its business behind closed doors, the chairman said.

Retired Army Col. Jerry Bussell, chairman of the Nevada Homeland Security Commission appointed by Gov. Kenny Guinn this week, said Nevadans expect to be involved in the state’s security matters.

“I’m not real interested in closing meetings and doing things in smoky back rooms,” Bussell said. But he said he would close meetings if an imminent security danger existed.

Bussell is one of six Northern Nevadans on the 18-member panel. The others are Reno Mayor Bob Cashell^; Washoe County Sheriff Dennis Balaam^; retired Sparks Justice of the Peace Larma Volk^; Maj. Gen. Giles E. Vanderhoof, the state adjutant general^; and Robert Hadfield, executive director of the Nevada Association of Counties.

“I think having a voice on what goes on in the state is important for the north,” Balaam said, adding that the board could help local departments get necessary equipment and training.

Bussell said that among the board’s first priorities will be to assess Nevada’s current preparedness and how it is spending federal homeland security dollars.

“We will start addressing very quickly where we are at in Nevada, what is our level of training, our level of equipment and what resources we have,” he said.

The commission was created by the 2003 Legislature to propose plans for protecting state energy, telecommunications and water from terrorist attacks and state documents and computer systems from cyber-terrorism.

The panel also will coordinate cooperation among federal, state and local emergency responders.

FBI Executive Assistant Director Larry Mefford, in Reno last week to talk to law enforcement commanders about the nation’s progress on terrorist dangers, said Nevada is on the right track by focusing on federal, state and local agency cooperation.

“One agency can’t do it alone,” Mefford said.

Other board members include Southern Nevada law enforcement commanders, a retired nurse, a water official, fire commanders and businesspeople.

Original article

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