WASHINGTON (AP) - Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge told governors Sunday they're responsible for closely coordinating security planning at the state and local levels and promised to provide better information about the terrorism threat to aid those efforts.
"I understand we have to do a better job of information sharing," he told the National Governors Association winter meeting. "I might as well bring this up before you do."
Ridge told the governors that in about two weeks, he would be releasing details of a new national alert system that would provide more information about the seriousness of a threat. He has made references to the new alert system after people criticized the broader terrorist alerts that were issued.
"The broader goal will be that on those hopefully rare occasions when we get information that is of sufficient credibility and corroboration, we will be able to do an assessment and attach a certain level to it," Ridge said. "Right now, you're either on alert or not on alert."
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Ridge said the system would give law enforcement and the public a better idea of what credibility professionals put on the threat. "There will be times when it goes just to a state, a governor or a region, and there will be times when it will go national," he said, adding that the alerts often become national news no matter the original plan.
"We would hope and expect an enhanced level of preparedness would be the response," he said.
Ridge said it was crucial that governors coordinate security plans carefully with local authorities and that a planned $3.5 billion intended to support emergency and medical personnel would be funneled through the states, with three-fourths of that money destined for cities and counties.
The federal government will work to improve the tracking of people who come into the country and work for border security that allows the resumed flow of commerce while being more vigilant.
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