|Sheriff’s concerns different now than from the past|
|Friday, March 11, 2011|
From Post staff reports
A new challenge in which he is engaged, Ashe said, is that of dealing with certain homeland security issues. He told members of Lebanon’s Breakfast Rotary yesterday that among his early morning duties each day is to review a national security report published daily for law enforcement from federal authorities.
“We no longer can think that it can’t happen here,” Ashe said, referring to terrorist attacks and other threats to homeland security, because the reality is that “it can happen here.”
He said he’s not necessarily worried about attacks here from foreign invaders or the likes of a bin Laden, but he is concerned about those who may be mentally unstable and may cause harm or attempt to cause harm others or be destructive to property.
Ashe pointed out that in Wilson County alone there are some 27 “soft targets” that are subject to protection through certain homeland security strategies.
He said he could not disclose the potential target sites but did say that two of the 27, if struck, could impact four states and one potential target could affect multiple states.
Indicating the significance of at least one of the target sites, Ashe said that of 16 federal grants issued last year for this specific type of homeland security threat, Wilson County was the recipient of one of the grants designated for protection of this one site.
One of the 27 so-called soft targets he said was the Doppler Radar Center in West Wilson County, which he noted is an important asset and resource for a number of reasons beyond weather forecasting.
For instance, in the event of a chemical attack the radar center could serve to detect cloud movement, wind speed and other information that would be resourceful in helping to alert and defend the immediate region served by the radar station.
Ashe noted other concerns of the County Sheriff’s Department that didn’t exist or weren’t as prevalent several years ago include crimes committed by gangs, methamphetamine labs, and other drug related crimes.