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Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Learn to Protect Against Terrorists, Violent Non-Citizens

By Sandra Knispel | Published 27 Apr 2011 03:55pm | comments

Mississippi law enforcement is learning how to deal with terrorism suspects and violent non-U-S. citizens under a new Department of Homeland Security program. MPB’s Sandra Knispel has more on a training session that took place in Indianola yesterday.

Only in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9-11 did it become clear that relevant intelligence had been available – but that a lack of communication between agencies prevented counter-terrorism experts to piece the puzzle together in time. As a direct result of that failure the Department of Homeland Security was born in 2002.

“When 9-11 hit we weren’t communicating.The FBI had knowledge of an individual, INS had knowledge of different individuals… stuff like that. So for Secure Communities purposes we basically consolidate all our resources where we would share information amongst the federal partners as well and we want to push that technology down to the local partners, said John Milian, assistant field office director in the New Orleans office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-also often referred to by its catchy acronym ICE.

“We’re focusing on criminal aliens. A person could be a lawful permanent resident but then he was convicted of a sexual offense against a minor. That conviction of that offense could rescind his lawful permanent resident status, which could make him removable from the United States,” Milian explained. ICE is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Along with Roland Jones, the Mississippi assistant special agent in charge at Homeland Security Investigations, both men met with local law enforcement officers in Indianola yesterday to talk about the ICE Secure Communities program.

“What we need law enforcement to know is that they are probably going to encounter an offender first. Not the federal agencies but the local law enforcement. And when their immigration status becomes a suspicion of the local officer we are their resources. And what we’re describing to them today is how they can reach us – whether it’s an investigation or to process the person for removal or to determine their alienage,” Jones said.

Jones, who is based in Gulfport, said the BP oil spill has highlighted the vulnerability of the coastal region to possible terrorist attacks. “A dirty bomb for instance or an explosive vessel in the mouth of the Mississippi can shut down maritime activity for a long time in the same way that post 9-11 the airline industry took a really, really big hit.“

Claiborne County Sheriff Frank Davis who had come to Indianola yesterday for the training said the information was useful.

“We’ve had some large structures to be built in our area. And we’ve seen as many as 300 aliens there working at one time. And it’s good to know who[m] you can call just to check these people out."

The event was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and 2nd District Congressman Bennie Thompson.

Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Indianola.

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