July 1, 2002
SECURITY MEASURES SINCE 9/11
By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst
You asked (1) what Connecticut has done to increase public security in the wake of the September 11 attacks and (2) whether the state intends to use any of the funding it will receive for homeland security to increase staffing for the Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
The legislature passed many initiatives in the wake of the September 11 attacks, including six that are designed to increase public security. These acts establish new penalties for terrorism and related crimes, and increase existing penalties for several crimes committed for terrorist purposes. The legislature also passed acts: (1) increasing penalties for making a false report regarding a catastrophe or other emergency, (2) exempting certain security-related information from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), (3) making it clear that the costs utility companies expend for security measures can be recovered from ratepayers, (4) requiring a report to the legislature on planning and activities for children as part of homeland preparedness and planning to respond to terrorism, and (5) requiring OEM, in cooperation with other agencies, to develop a plan for stockpiling and distributing potassium iodide tablets in the area near the Millstone nuclear power plant in case radiation is released from the plant.
Several agencies have taken steps to increase security following the attacks. Among other things, the Department of Public Safety has increased staffing at Bradley Airport and in specialized units, such as those that use explosives-sniffing dogs. It has also provided security training for state agencies, businesses, and other entities. Other agencies that have taken steps to increase public security are OEM and the departments of Public Health and Public Utility Control.
Connecticut and other states have received relatively little federal funding to date for enhanced security in the wake of the attacks. OEM anticipates receiving $ 4. 6 million in federal FY 2002-03 from the U. S. Department of Justice to provide equipment grants to fire departments and other first responders. Only a small proportion of this funding can be used for administrative expenses and OEM does not anticipate using it to hire additional staff. OEM currently has a number of vacancies; whether these will be filled will depend on the state budget.
Penalties for Terrorist Acts
PA 02-97 creates the crimes of (a) terrorism; (b) fabricating weapons involving chemicals, disease organisms, or radiation; (c) damage to public transportation property for terrorist purposes; (d) contaminating a public water or food supply for terrorist purposes; and (e) criminal misrepresentation. Under the act, a person found guilty of terrorism is subject to the penalties for the next highest degree of felony if the court finds that his history and character and the nature and circumstances of his criminal conduct indicate that the increased penalty will best serve the public interest. The other crimes are felonies subject to imprisonment and fines.
The act also, among other things:
1. increases the penalty when someone hinders prosecution of a person who committed, for terrorist purposes, a class A or B felony or an unclassified felony with a possible prison term of more than 10 years;
2. increases the penalty for most computer crimes when they are committed to further terrorist purposes;
3. adds felonies involving the unlawful or threatened use of physical force or violence with intent to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or a government unit to the list of crimes that can be the subject of a grand jury investigation or a wiretap order; and
4. makes wiretap evidence obtained validly under federal law admissible in state court regardless of state law on obtaining wiretap evidence.
Making False Reports about Emergencies
PA 01-2, November 15 Special Session, increases penalties for false reports of catastrophes and emergencies, including those that result in serious physical injury or death. It prohibits placing an imitation hazardous substance in a public place or in a place or manner likely to be discovered by another person with intent to cause, or with reckless disregard of causing, inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm. It also increases the penalty for placing imitation bombs and expands this crime.
Protecting Security Information from Disclosure under FOIA
By law, the public works commissioner can direct public agencies to withhold certain security-related records about buildings and facilities under their management or control from members of the public who request disclosure under FOIA. The correction and mental health and addiction services commissioners can keep confidential similar records relating to their facilities.
PA 02-133 broadens the public works commissioner's authority; allowing him to decide whether to disclose security-related records of all state executive branch agencies, municipalities, and districts and regional agencies. He must consult with the head of each such agency before deciding on records for buildings and facilities under his management or control. The act gives the Legislative Management Committee's executive director the same authority with respect to buildings and facilities under her management or control. Agencies that receive requests for such records must notify the executive director in the same way they currently notify other officials.
PA 02-102 requires water companies to give the Public Health Department sabotage prevention and response procedures separate from their water supply plans and exempts these procedures from disclosure under FOIA. It also requires the plans, beginning January 1, 2004, to include an evaluation of source water protection measures for all sources of water supply.
Funding Utility Company Security Improvements
By law, the Department of Public Utility Control must follow certain principles in setting utility rates, including that rates be just sufficient to cover utility costs while protecting public interests. PA 02-94 specifies that the costs include the reasonable cost of security for the utility's assets, facilities, and equipment incurred solely to respond to security needs associated with the September 11, 2001 attacks and the continuing war on terrorism. The act has specific provisions for electric and gas utilities.
Civil Preparedness and Children
SA 02-8 requires the Office of Policy and Management to prepare a report for the legislature on planning and activities for children as part of homeland preparedness and planning to respond to terrorism. Among other things, the report must address children's health needs, education for families, and training for school staffs and childcare workers.
Distributing Potassium Iodide in the Event of a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency
SA 02-6 requires the OEM, in cooperation with other agencies, to develop a plan for stockpiling and distributing potassium iodide tablets in the area near the Millstone nuclear power plant in case radiation is released from the plant. These tablets can reduce the risk of thyroid cancer in the event of such exposure.
Department of Public Safety
The department has taken many steps to increase security in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Among other things, it has:
1. tripled staffing at Bradley Airport;
2. hired four additional pilots and conducted security flights over highways, waterways, and nuclear power plants;
3. increased staffing levels, including hazardous explosives teams and explosive-detecting canine units;
4. provided security for water treatment facilities and reservoirs;
5. developed a protocol for handling suspicious packages and possible anthrax threats;
6. provided training for agencies, businesses, and other organizations on how to prepare and respond to threats; and
7. compiled a list of active and retired troopers with specialized training and experience.
Office of Emergency Management
OEM anticipates receiving $ 4. 6 million from the U. S. Department of Justice to provide equipment grants to first responders in federal FY 2002-03. (It has already received $ 2. 6 million under this program, which pre-dated the September 11 attacks. ) First responders include police and fire departments, hospitals, and the Department of Environmental Protection, which operates a hazardous materials program. The agencies can use the grants to buy protective clothing (protective suits, gloves, and masks) for their staff. They can also use the grants to purchase decontamination and hazard detection equipment and, to a limited extent, communications equipment. OEM can retain 2. 5% of the funding for its administrative expenses but it does not anticipate using these funds to hire additional staff. OEM did submit budget proposals earlier this year for additional positions to augment state and local anti-terrorism and security activities. These proposals were not included in the budget approved by the legislature. OEM currently has several vacancies; whether these are filled will depend on the state budget.
Department of Public Health
The department has received $ 12. 5 million from the federal Centers for Disease Control for a public health preparedness program. The department uses this money to provide funds to two hospitals (Bridgeport and Hartford) to develop biohazard treatment protocols, needs assessments, and other programs as models for other hospitals. The department is also providing funds to local districts, the Connecticut Hospital Association, and others to help prepare for bioterrorism. The department has also received $ 1. 5 million from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to help hospitals prepare for attacks. The current funding for both programs runs through August 2003 and funding is guaranteed at current levels for at least one additional year.
The department works with hospitals in operating a system to quickly detect an increase in unusual illnesses that might suggest the release of a biological agent such as anthrax. It has developed computer-based networks that allow for rapid transfer of information from the state to local health departments, hospitals, and the media, which were used in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. A department Webpage, (http: //www. dph. state. ct. us/Agency_News/bioterror. htm) addresses bio-terrorism issues. The site includes fact sheets on various biological hazards and contact information. Finally, the department has established a public health/bioterrorism advisory board to help it address bioterrorism issues.
Department of Public Utility Control
The department has retained a consultant to work with utilities to increase the security of energy, telecommunications, and water facilities.