Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Weekly News Conference: Homeland Security
March 12, 2003

Good morning.

Thank you for joining us for our homeland security review.

I’d like to introduce and welcome:

Glenn Woodbury, Director of Washington State Emergency Management;

Chief Ronal Serpas of the Washington State Patrol;

Ms. Jac Davies from the Department of Health;

and Valoria Loveland, Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

We last reviewed homeland security six months ago, in September – one year after the tragic events of September 11.

Today, as the nation seems to be on the verge of military conflict, we’d like to update you on our state’s emergency preparedness.

I’ll offer a few general comments and then turn it over to my colleagues for reports on their respective areas.

I’d like to begin by saying simply this:

We are prepared.

We are meeting the challenge of being safe, secure and prepared.

We continue to be a leader among states on homeland security issues.

We always look for ways to improve, and we’ve been working aggressively within and across agencies in our state.

Emergency preparedness is a top priority for our state – and for my administration.

I established a state Committee on Terrorism in November of 1999.

That was nearly 2 years before the September 11 attacks.

The Committee leads our homeland security effort.

We’ve brought together local, state and federal officials to address our vulnerabilities, capabilities, and emergency responder needs.

We’ve integrated civilian and military emergency management functions in one agency, the State Military Department.

We’ve also established protocols for directing anti-terrorism funding throughout our state.

And since1999, we’ve spent approximately $10.2 million in federal funds.

We’ve purchased emergency equipment, including special equipment for first responders.

We’ve conducted regional table-top exercises.

And just last Friday, we were notified that the Department of Homeland Security has authorized $11.3 million for equipment, training, exercising and planning.

Homeland security training continues to expand.

Since last September, Washington’s Emergency Management Division alone has added 30 homeland security programs that have already enrolled hundreds of first responders.

Homeland security is a partnership, and we’ve forged solid working partnerships with federal law enforcement and homeland security agencies.

These vital partnerships ensure consistent communications to prevent and respond effectively to terrorist acts.

Right now, we need the federal government to step up to its end of the partnership.

The White House pledged to distribute $3.5 billion to the states for first-responder equipment and training for fiscal year 2003. States getting only ¼ of money , Wash will get 20/75.

We’re still waiting for this vitally important funding.

Today I again call on the Administration and Congress to release this funding.

Finally, this May our state will participate in the U.S. Department of Justice and State Department’s TOPOFF 2 exercise.

This counter-terrorism training will involve both U.S. and Canadian first responders and national officials.

TOPOFF, which stands for "Top Officials," is designed to test our country's ability to respond to and manage acts of terrorism.

Washington is just one of two states in the country that are proving grounds for this exercise.

We are obviously taking it very seriously – and we’re eager to learn from the exercise.

Now let’s hear more specifics about our state’s homeland security effort.

I’d like to introduce the Director of Washington State Emergency Management, Glenn Woodbury.

I’d like to thank each of our speakers.

Homeland security has been and will continue to be a top priority for our state, especially in these uncertain times.

We will continue to work in partnership with local, state and federal authorities to keep our state safe and secure.

We will do all we can to make sure that our emergency preparedness levels remain high – and our citizens protected.

And now we’ll take your questions.

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