City blankets residents in security

Since the attacks, Milwaukee has taken steps to improve safety in the city, according to Ald. Michael Murphy from the 16th aldermanic district. He said the police and fire departments, as well as the Water Works, have taken “pro-active steps” toward protection.

“We have increased our ability to respond to very unique terrorist attacks,” said Lt. Robert Delgadillo, public information officer for the Milwaukee Fire Department. He said MFD has received federal funding to get more equipment, to send employees to more training and to fund Emergency Operation Centers.

“The citizens of Milwaukee can feel they are wrapped in a very great blanket of safety,” Delgadillo said. Firefighters have new hazardous materials equipment, training for all sorts of possible attacks and communication technology.

He said communication is important in an emergency situation and MFD has been working on it by putting funding toward Emergency Operation Centers, radio equipment and various other communication efforts.

“If it gets down to hand gestures, we have a way to communicate,” Degadillo said.

Two Emergency Operation Centers have been operating in Milwaukee for several years, but they are now “upgraded to the state of the art,” Delgadillo said.

The centers house members from the 14 agencies that would respond in an emergency situation, he said.

“They’re sitting at the same table, in the same room, detailing what each agency is doing,” Delgadillo said.

The Milwaukee Water Works has focused on strengthening security, according to Carrie Lewis, superintendent of Water Works. Treatment plants receive round-the-clock guards to control access.

“Visitors must be expected and have a reason to be there,” Lewis said. No longer can guests tour the Water Works facilities on a whim, “just showing up at the gate and asking to come in.”

Pumping stations had increases in “physical security — doors, locks, alarms, cameras,” Lewis said.

The way in which policy deal with alarms at remote locations also has changed.

“Before, if an alarm at a remote station went off, we’d send someone first and then call the police,” Lewis said. “Now we call the police first. We’re doing a good job and have made increases important to security.”

Capt. Russell Shaw, associate director of the Department of Public Safety, said DPS has changed a few things since the attacks.

DPS has encouraged university mailroom employees to be more diligent in checking the mail to be aware of packages with no return addresses, he said. The DPS Web site will reflect 9/11-related changes in the next few days. In the “Safety Responses Area” of the site, a “National Alert Response” will be added.

The new Web site section will feature the national threat level and its corresponding color and what students should do in the event of an attack, Shaw said.

The Milwaukee Police Department could not be reached for comment.