Tennessee threats thwarted by state’s Department of Homeland Security

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The events of September 11th, 2001, thrust all Americans, even those at the highest level, into a state of disbelief.

“That kind of terrorism was new to the United States. It shocked the nation,” says Greg Mays Director of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

He says a lack of shared intelligence caused enough confusion to leave the country exposed and caught off guard.

“We learned a lot in 2001, and we knew we needed to communicate better. The intelligence was not good at that time, and there were all sorts of reports that turned out to be false,” Mays explains.

He continues, the problem plaguing the policing community wasn’t a novelty.

“I don’t think it was anything nefarious. There are many different law enforcement agencies and having them work together and share information has always been an issue.”

In response to the attacks, President George W. Bush announced the creation of The Department of Homeland Security in 2002, as a national strategy charged with coordinating efforts.

“Since inception,” Mays says, “I believe it’s around $77 million has been passed from the federal government out to this state and to the local departments. We have enhanced communication, enhanced response capability. I’m talking bomb squads, K-9 units, hazmat materials, vehicles.”

Mays and his 12 agents are responsible for the state’s 95. It’s preventative protection and breaking down communication barriers that keep Mays busy.

“We feel confident that there are events that we have stopped. Might be a troubled young person that expressed bring a gun to school and hurting people. We had a case not too long ago where someone expressed an interest in blowing up a building.”

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The office is currently in the process of rolling out a state-wide system called Cop Link.

“Which is a way we are going to try to get law enforcement databases to better communicate because the information is there, we just need to access it,” explains Mays.

But, how is the agency’s effectiveness truly tracked if its scorecard is based on events that never happen?
News 2’s Alex Denis asks Mays how he would rate the impact DHS has on the country.

“Historians will have the final say on that, right? Because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security underwent some big reorganizations. One U.S. Congressman described it as a living breathing monument to bureaucracy at one time. They’ve had some struggles, but I believe that we’ll see homeland at the federal and state level historically as the right thing to do,” says Mays.

September 11, 2001, was a day that changed our country and the world. The fight against terrorism has not ended. Some state and federal law enforcement agencies say we cannot let our guard down. News 2 digs deeper with special reports ‘9/11: 20 Years Later’ all day today in every newscast and on WKRN.com.

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