More warnings, more security

Sheriff expresses concern over lack of FBI communication

— Though Routt County seems geographically isolated from possible terrorist attacks, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation issues a warning to Americans, the Sheriff's Office here takes it seriously.

Routt County Sheriff John Warner said after the Oct. 11 warning and the warning on Monday, the number of shifts of deputies changes along with increased patrols on possible targets.

"We shift the way we do things," Warner said. "It bumps us up a notch for extra patrol."

Deputies will increase patrols at the coal mines, the power station and Yampa Valley Regional Airport as the result of the warnings, he said.

However, besides having the responsibility of tightening security and increasing shifts, Warner said one of his concerns is how, and how soon, he is finding out about the warnings.

Warner said he heard about the Oct. 11 terrorist attack warning from a Denver television news program, not the National Crime Introduction Computer, which is where he would expect to receive notice before hand.

The second warning that came on Monday was sent out over the computer.

Warner said he made a call to the FBI office in Glenwood Springs Tuesday in regard to the second warning. From that call he learned the FBI has determined Colorado may be at a lesser risk than other states.

"We have no credible threats of attacks against Colorado," FBI Special Agent Ann Atanasio said.

However, she emphasized Colorado is not immune from attacks and that people shouldn't think this means nothing could happen here.

Warner said that type of information is frustrating. If the FBI knows Colorado may be less at risk than other states, or if the agency has an idea that the chances of something happening at a particular place are greater, why aren't he and other law enforcement officers being informed, he mused?

"If they have a reason to believe something is going to happen, why don't they just tell us?" Warner asked.

Atanasio said she wouldn't comment on that point. She did say the 18,000 law enforcement agencies were informed about the warning, which came from U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. She said the warning is meant to increase public vigilance.

Warner agreed that the public should be aware of possible terrorist-related events.

He said even though Routt County is isolated, people here should be aware of their surroundings and be sensitive to strange events.

"Don't be paranoid," Warner said. "But be conscious."

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