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Interview with Oscar Goodman, John Miller, Steve Shiver

Aired May 20, 2003 - 20:17   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: You may have heard by now, the national terror alert level has been raised to orange, that is high on the scale. It's the fourth time that's happened since the attacks of 9/11. Across the country, now, authorities are hoping for the best getting ready for possibly the worst.
Three guests tonight from Las Vegas, the Mayor Oscar B. Goodman is our guest in Vegas.

A Miami-Dade County manager Steve Shiver.

And John Miller has the view of the far west, Los Angeles. The commanding officer of the LAPD's Counter Terrorism Bureau.

I want to start in Miami with Steve Shiver.

I understand you've taken additional steps since the announcement today.

What have you done in your city?

STEVE SHIVER, MIAMI-DADE COUNTRY MANAGER: Since September 11, we as many jurisdictions across the country have been on a heightened state of alert. Once again, we have increased presence at our infrastructure departments, as well as airport and seaport. That said, today with the heightened state of alert we will continue to increase our inspections of cars and vehicle traffic into the port of Miami and Miami International Airport.

HEMMER: So, is that the biggest change, then, inspections?

SHIVER: Inspections as well as a more massive uniform presence throughout the county.

HEMMER: Is that difficult for your county?

SHIVER: Well, it's extremely difficult. In fact, the financial burden it's placed on us is roughly estimated at about $30 million for that heightened bar of security across the board.

HEMMER: Thirty million over how long of a period?

SHIVER: Well, that's been since September 11. On an annualize the basis.

HEMMER: All right. To the mayor of Las Vegas. Mayor Goodman, good evening to you there.

What are you doing in Vegas since the announcement came out?

MAYOR OSCAR B. GOODMAN, LAS VEGAS: It's business as usual. We feel very secure here in Las Vegas. We never received any credible information whatsoever to think that we're being threatened. And it's for the general information, of course, it causes the color to change and to go into a more heightened alert mode. But the bottom line really is it's business as usual here in Las Vegas.

HEMMER: What do you tell your citizens then, if word comes out from D.C. and you do nothing in Vegas? What gives there?

GOODMAN: Well, it's not a question of not doing anything. We have a very effective police department, and a lot of mini police departments in effect as a result of the casinos which have their own security forces. So, we tell them to be alert, to be sensible, if they see anything let the authorities know. But we're not alarming anybody, and I often express the fact that without having this credible information, keep on fiddling with the alert, that that can create a "Boy who Cried Wolf" situation. So we try not to get people too excited about this kind of thing.

HEMMER: Listen you bring up an interesting point.

Want to get to L.A. right now, and bring in Mr. John Miller.

Mr. Miller, good evening to you.

What about that with the shifting alert and the shifting ready level of readiness?

Does that send a bit of confusion like it does to the mayor in Vegas?

JOHN MILLER, LAPD: You know, I think it's a good thing, that may put me in the minority. I know it drives the public crazy saying we've gone from yellow to orange, what do they expect us to do? But I don't think there's a better way to send a signal to the public. If you tell everybody we live in dangerous times you have to be on high alert, well, everybody will be on high alert for three weeks or a month, but people's senses dull to it. When you take them from orange, you bring them back down to yellow. Well, when you go up to orange or red, you're telling them, we're expecting you to be a little bit more on the ball. A little bit more aware. That thing that you saw that was a little suspicious that you thought, maybe I won't report it. Well, we are telling you this week give it the benefit of the doubt, report it. I think it's actually useful. For police departments, it gives them a signal, from the federal government that the intelligence indicating they need to do more in terms of looking at high threat locations, maybe fix post, increase physical security, a higher level of awareness. So I think it is a useful thing because there isn't a better tool to do it.

HEMMER: John, I'm wondering how much of this is covering your own behind here out of D.C.? MILLER: It's funny that you mention that, because this week, we had done our own analysis, we had put together a number of things before the government hinted it was going to go to orange early this morning. And we were already halfway down this road, based on our independent assessment with the FBI here in L.A.

HEMMER: Current cost is what given the increase, you heard $30 million in Miami going back to 9/11.

What's it there?

MILLER: The last time we went down this road, it cost in excess of $4 million. And that was at a time when, of course, we went to orange because the war was starting, but we were dealing with a number of demonstrations. What we've done here, our orange in L.A. Is a security level four, we go by numbers instead of colors, just to differentiate at time when we may not be on the same level as they are. And a level four can cost us a million dollars a week. What we tried to do is adjust it for practicality. We put in effect many of the components of it. Some we have left out, but we can add them later as needed. But we've tried to go on essentially a level four light, modified four.

HEMMER: Let me make a clarification a million dollars a week, is that your best guess?

MILLER: I would have to look at the package that we just put in on instructions of the mayor to tell you that. But I can tell you the first time around, it was higher than that.

HEMMER: Let's talk about the public's reaction in Miami with Steve Shiver.

What do people think, what do they say when it goes high like it did earlier today?

Do they wink, or do they do more than that, do they shudder thinking that possibly the intelligence is so good that it could happen again here?

SHIVER: Well, I think people understand that we live in a different environment now here in this country. For years, many across the world have felt this level of security that we have not known that here in the United States. We all understand that we live in a different environment. So I think people have become resolved in that, knowing that there may be uncertain times ahead.

HEMMER: Want to get back to the mayor quickly here.

How much longer can we do this as a country? how much longer are we prepared for thing likes this?

GOODMAN: I think,indefinitely. We spend an awful lot of timetable top exercises. We go out in the field. We have everybody in place in case god forbid there is an emergency. As a matter of fact, I'm advocating a bill up in our legislature to the effect that all physicians as part of their continuing education have to have training as far as bioterrorism and chemical terrorism and the like, because I don't want situation ever to arise that we can't respond to. But the bottom line is preparedness is not a bad thing, but fear is worse than that.

HEMMER: Thanks all three of you, John Miller L.A., Steve Shiver in Miami, and Mayor Oscar B. Goodman in Vegas. Good luck out there.


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