September 9, 2011
Military Bases, Airports, JaxPort All On Heightened Alert Through Sept. 11
Security has been heightened all across Jacksonville, including at area military bases, airports and shipping ports through the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 on Sunday.
According to the Jacksonville mayor's office, there are no credible threats involving the River City, but nonetheless, there is a heightened sense of security.
Still, Mayor Alvin Brown is encouraging the city's residents to stay calm this Sunday.
"Go about your normal day. Do the things you normally do," Brown said. "Go to your house of worship. Go shopping."
Brown said he's staying in touch with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the Emergency Operations Center and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Mike Williams, JSO's chief of Homeland Security, said the Sheriff's Office has increased its training and added new tools since 9/11. He said those things make officers better equipped to stop attacks before they happen.
"We have to be ready for anything, and I'm very pleased to say that we have a good team," Williams said. "Through grants, though other training, through the government, and just the whole system that was set up by the state and the federal government, we were able to build capabilities that we would have never been able to build on our own through our own budgets."
Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay will possibly be some of the most secure places this weekend after the Pentagon raised security levels at bases nationwide.
Meanwhile, it's business as usual at Jacksonville's airports. Ed Goodwin, of the Transportation Security Administration at Jacksonville International Airport, said security is tight there every day.
"We're 50 times safer just with everything we've implemented over the past 10 years, without a doubt," Goodwin said.
The airport can't get lax for any reason.
"Aviation is a target. It comes up in every intelligence briefing, so we have to be vigilante," said Steve Grossman, of JIA.
The TSA isn't in charge of Jacksonville's smaller airports, Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport and Herlong Airport, so the Jacksonville Aviation Authority has taken steps to make sure they're safe, adding secure entry points and fences around them.
JaxPort is another place where security will stay the same, but only because it's drastically increased since Sept. 11.
"Not Jacksonville, necessarily, but all entry points into this country, of course, have been a focus of prioritizing security requirements," JaxPort spokeswoman Nancy Rubin said.
More than 90 percent of the nation's goods come through ports. JaxPort is a potential entry point for terrorists.
Rubin said that since Sept. 11, everyone at the port must have an identification badge and a reason for being there.
"Who's here? What are they doing here? Do they belong here? When do they leave?" Rubin said.