Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cameras Help Secure First Coast from Terror; on Roadways and Bridges, Traffic Tools Also Scan for Suspicious Activity

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cameras Help Secure First Coast from Terror; on Roadways and Bridges, Traffic Tools Also Scan for Suspicious Activity

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSIE-LYNNE KERR

Those cameras you see watching you on Jacksonville's highways and bridges are not just there to help get traffic moving in case of an accident.

They also serve as the lookouts for those who would do harm, officials say.

With intrepid Londoners gutting it through another apparent terror attack Thursday on its public transportation system, just how safe is Jacksonville and its system of highways, bridges, railroads, mass transit and waterways?

Federal, state and local agencies in 13 Northeast Florida counties have "weaved together a barrier to protect against such an enemy," according to Dominick Pape, special agent in charge of the Jacksonville office of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who serves as chairman of the Regional Domestic Security Task Force.

"Of course, anything could happen because we are a very open society," Pape said, "but that's what makes us a great society, although it also leaves us vulnerable."

To counter that, Pape said, the law enforcement and domestic security partners in the region have been on a constant alert on the area's roads, bridges, rails, waterways, ports and airports since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We keep in constant touch with our partners about incidents around the world and encourage them to continue their vigilance," Pape said. The agencies also exchange intelligence.

"Right now we have no information that there is a threat to our area or to the state of Florida," Pape emphasized.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority put its drivers on alert Thursday as soon as word of the London explosions was received, said spokesman Mike Miller.

"We have cautioned our operators to be more vigilant in response to today's events," Miller said. That means drivers take extra care when searching their buses at specific times, he said.

"They all have received extra training and they search their buses at specific times, not only for left behind umbrellas or laptops, but for anything that looks suspicious," Miller said.

While the Skyway Express people mover cars are automatic and unmanned, Miller said they all are equipped with security cameras that are constantly monitored and there are supervisors present at all Skyway stations. …

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