Homeland Security (2006)
Sandra Smith Gangle
Are we safe?
Detective Griff Holland, Domestic Terrorism Specialist with the Oregon State Police, and Detective Tyler Chapman, of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, talked on “Homeland Security in Oregon.” They told a group of 18 League members and guests on April 18, 2006, that Oregon is not immune to the occurrence of terrorist-type activities. We have seen such activities in the past, and we should remain on the lookout for suspicious activities that could indicate danger is lurking once again.
The murder of Ethiopian Mulegeta Surah in Portland by skinhead white supremacists gave Oregon the reputation of a “hate-crime capital.” Also, someone from the Rajneesh sprinkled salmonella poison on restaurant food in The Dalles in 1984 committing our nation’s first case of bio-terrorism. In addition, arson fires and other property damage have been attributed to members of certain organizations that seek to spread their messages by means of violent tactics.
Holland said that there is a potential for future attacks on our infrastructure, such as power lines, bridges and roads. He expects that, at some point, suicide bombers may begin striking heavily populated areas.
Citizens as eyes and ears
We, as members of the public, can be the eyes and ears of law enforcement, Holland said. It was a member of the public in Snohomish County, Washington, that first reported a group of suspicious persons firing automatic weapons in a quarry, and their report ultimately led to the conviction of the Portland Seven, a terrorist group. We should let the authorities know promptly of any unusual activities we might observe that could signal violence.
A Threat Assessment Network consisting of thirty law-enforcement officers throughout our state shares information on possible dangerous activities as such reports are received. Investigations can be conducted and responsible parties apprehended.
Detective Chapman told us that, here in Marion County, some extremists are believed to be encouraging others to target businesses and construction sites where they believe the business activity is threatening animal rights or trees. While the advocacy itself may be constitutionally-protected speech, the advocates sometimes cross the line and recommend killing or eco-terrorism. That is when the police should be notified.
Report criminal activity
We should call 911 if we ever see illegal activity actually occurring. The Salem Police Department’s non-emergency line should be called when other observations might need to be investigated. To obtain additional information about Homeland Security, Det. Holland’s number is 503-378-6347 X286 and Det. Chapman’s is 503-566-6910.
Holland also reminded the listeners that every family should be prepared to take care of its members for at least 72 hours in the event of a natural disaster or a terrorist activity. Even if a disaster were to occur at a distant location, it could result in a loss of electric power or other interruption of services in our city.