County gets grant to aid in terrorism prevention
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Why would New York State’s Office of Homeland Security promise Sullivan County $278,000 “to support their terrorism and prevention and preparedness efforts”?
County Public Safety Commissioner Dick Martinkovic explained that the reimbursable grant isn’t so much to prevent what most consider a fairly remote chance of terrorism in Sullivan County.
“The money is for the protection of the entire country,” he said.
Sullivan County is just over two hours from one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world and some fear that the area’s wooded hillsides could be ripe grounds for secret bomb-making enterprises.
“The big thing they’re worried about in this country is a radiological ‘dirty’ bomb,” Martinkovic remarked in particular, IEDs, or individual explosive devices.
In fact, the nation’s intelligence services are routinely engaged in tracking down and thwarting efforts to explode such bombs in heavily-populated areas like New York City.
Though Martinkovic is not aware of any investigations focused on Sullivan County, painful experience has shown that, from lone individuals to organized cells, terrorists crave the anonymity and privacy provided by rural settings.
Martinkovic pointed out that the county is full of such hiding places, from old bungalow colonies to hunting cabins.
That’s why he’s part of a multi-county effort partnered with New Jersey and New York City to share information and resources.
That’s also why the county is splitting the $278,000 state grant amongst the Sheriff’s Office, fire departments and other emergency responders to offer training that prepares them for dealing with terrorists and their potentially booby-trapped hiding spots.
Such training will make them “better cognizant,” said Martinkovic, of the dangers inherent in dealing with desperate, unstable, and/or enraged individuals and groups.
Everyone should remain aware and alert of suspicious activities in their neighborhoods, he added, remembering the state’s terrorism tips hotline: 1-866-SAFE-NYS.
But the average Sullivan County citizen shouldn’t fret about a terrorist targeting their hometown.
“We’re not worried about an al-Qaeda boat coming up the river to Fort Delaware,” Martinkovic said with a smile. “That’s not what this is about.”