Homeland Security a Major Focus for Agencies Across W.Va.

By: Sarah Sager Email
By: Sarah Sager Email

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- There’s a long list of local, state and federal agencies working to keep West Virginians safe.

Jimmy Gianato, director of Homeland Security in West Virginia, knows their work is necessary.

"Homeland security is more than just dealing with terrorist type events. It's being prepared. It's teaching people at the local level, the individual citizen, to be prepared and to be able to take care of themselves for an initial period of time," Gianato said.

Matthew Smith, environmental resource specialist with the West Virginia Environmental Protection Agency, has been dealing with a homegrown chemical mess that poses a major threat to anyone who comes into contact with its leftovers -- meth.

"That's the main thing we are trying to do is keep the public from being impacted by these materials,” Smith said.

While the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks is out of the picture, the fight is not over.

"One of the evolving threats is the fact that we have home grown extremists or terrorists all over the country," U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said.

Moving forward, it's also about learning from each experience.

"One of the capabilities that have been built in West Virginia since 9/11 is an intelligence fusion center, where we gather a lot of information and bring it into one central location ... We share it with all the key partners who have a need to know that information, so that they can be better prepared," Gianato said.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sponsored the fourth West Virginia Homeland Security Summit and Expo.

On Wednesday, Rockefeller spoke about legislation he's proposed that will enhance communication for first responders. He also highlighted what he called a major threat to our national security that could be through a cyber attack.

The summit and expo will run through Thursday.

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