Mayor: Island is safe from terrorism

County installs terrorism detection, response system — Heightened terrorism detection and response mechanisms have been implemented by officials of the County of Kaua’i, Mayor Bryan Baptiste announced yesterday.

Critical infrastructure across the island has been identified, and targeted for increased security and patrols, and private stakeholders have been engaged to add to the public security efforts, he said.

At mid-day Thursday, Baptiste joined the mayors of Maui County and Hawai’i County at a press conference held in the executive offices of Gov. Linda Lingle. Mayor Jeremy Harris, a former Kaua’i County Councilmember, missed the meeting due to dental surgery.

Lingle said all the mayors in Hawai’i are working together, sharing advice and if needed resources.

Baptiste said he joined Lingle and Hawai’i’s other three mayors for a working dinner at Lingle’s residence next door to the State Capitol. He said the dinner was called at his suggestion that it would be a way to add a personal relationship between the five to help them work together as Hawai’i faces a wartime situation.

During the press conference, Lingle joked that Kaua’i had an overabundance of generators left over from Hurricane ‘Iniki, and told of sending a Maui Water Department team to Kaua’i during the recovery from Hurricane ‘Iniki to help Kaua’i County get all its water system back online.

Baptiste said an emergency rapid-response team has been established, to respond to critical infrastructure (water systems, roads, etc.) protection needs.

Should Gov. Linda Lingle determine a higher level of terrorism alert is needed, the roles and responsibilities of security and response personnel have been prepared and reconfirmed, he said in a press release issued Thursday.

The state yesterday remained at a yellow alert level, signifying an elevated risk of terrorist attack. Federal facilities and most Mainland states remained on an orange alert level, indicative of a high risk of terrorist attack.

All non-critical county travel has been suspended until further notice, Baptiste said.

The mayor also said residents should prepare for economical impacts associated with armed conflict.

“As far as our economy is concerned, there are sure to be negative impacts,” he said. “The length or duration of the war will dictate the strategy necessary for recovery.”

County officials along with community partners in the economic-development sector should be able to see indications in the first week of war how the war may progress, he continued. County officials and business leaders will “react accordingly to events as they unfold,” said Baptiste.

“We are once again challenged, as we were with 9/11, Pearl Harbor, ‘Iniki and ‘Iwa before it,” he commented. “I have total confidence that the people of Kaua’i will come together to overcome this challenge as well.”

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