Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
News Conference--TOPOFF
May 5, 2003

Good morning.

Next week will be a significant step for Seattle, for our state, and for America. TOPOFF 2 will improve our capacity to manage complex, extreme terrorist events.

This is the second in a series of national anti-terrorism exercises mandated by the United States Congress. The exercise is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State.

TOPOFF 2 will demonstrate and test the integration of local, state and federal response plans, procedures and capabilities. The test scenarios we’ll be responding to are a bio-terrorism event originating in Chicago, and a dispersion device—a radioactive “dirty bomb”—in Seattle.

Here in Washington, several hundred state agency first responders and emergency managers will participate. These will include the Washington Army National Guard, the Emergency Management Division of the Washington Military Department, the Washington State Patrol, and the departments of Information Services, Health, Agriculture, Ecology, and Transportation.

We’ve done a lot of planning and preparation for this exercise. Washington State, King County, the city of Seattle and federal agencies have been preparing for more than a year. Last fall, the preparations expanded to include a related exercise in Pierce County.

The exercise is as inclusive as possible. The government of Canada and its provinces of British Columbia and Ontario will be involved. Seattle-area private sector partners and the American Red Cross will also be participating.

It’s important to point out that there is currently no specific, credible threat of terrorism in Washington. The time to test is before such threats arise. This exercise will examine our integrated emergency response and recovery actions. We’re performing this exercise to be better prepared. But prudent preparation is not a sign that we face any new or heightened threat of terrorism.

This is not a pass/fail exercise. The actions of local and state emergency responders will be tracked and documented. The final report may take several months to complete. The exercise report will focus on best practices and procedures based on the results of the exercise.

We are looking forward to the TOPOFF 2 exercise. This will help us improve our state’s emergency response and service to the public. We expect to learn a lot and apply what we learn to make our state more secure. TOPOFF 2 will give our state and local jurisdictions an unprecedented opportunity—the opportunity to work with many different federal agencies in an emergency response situation. It will help us improve our emergency response systems, and improve our ability to protect our state from both natural and man-made hazards.

TOPOFF 2 is the latest step as we continue to work in partnership with local, state and federal authorities to keep our state safe and secure. By planning and preparing, and by working together, we will remain vigilant in keeping our emergency preparedness levels high and our citizens protected.

Thank you.

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