In the ten years since 9-11 Mississippi has improved its ability to respond to both the threat of terror attacks as well as natural disasters.

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Officials: Mississippi Homeland Security Has Improved Since 9/11

By Daniel Cherry | Published 09 Sep 2011 12:01am | comments

In the decade following the attacks of September 11th, Mississippi has made significant improvements to it's ability to respond to the threat of terror. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how officials say the state is doing it's part to protect residents and contribute to national security.

One major effect of the attacks is that states and residents are on much higher alert. Jay Leadbetter is the Director of the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security. He says Mississippi doesn't have densely populated areas like New York or symbolic targets like the Washington Monument, but there are 14 thousand miles of important underground pipeline running through the state.

"Which is a lot more than most other states have. These pipelines serve everything from the Gulf Coast going straight to the Eastern Seaboard. Much critical infrastructure is supplied through these pipelines, and our state is charged with protecting these pipelines."

Leadbetter says 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina showed emergency responders communication was lacking. He says Mississippi is finishing up on a statewide radio network that will connect counties and cities as well as other responders.

"But also we can talk to responding states when they come to help us or we respond to their states. If FEMA sends down any of their response task forces, we'll be able to talk with these guys. We're on a common operating platform for communications now, and we're one of the few states that have this."

Mississippi has been making a strong push in the battle to combat cyber crimes. And for good reason. U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson represents Mississippi's 2nd district and is the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee. He says cyber crime is the nation's biggest threat.

"We have to do more to fortify our cyber security systems in this country. Our electrical grid, all those things have the potential for catastrophic events to occur if successful hackers get into the system."

Thompson says the federal government invests a large amount of it's homeland security budget towards cyber security.

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