October 12, 2001

Local Leaders Hold Chemical Terrorism Briefing

Washington, DC -- During a U.S. Conference of Mayors interactive webcast this week, panelists discussed potential chemical threats, how to prepare for such attacks, and federal training programs available to assist local governments. Nearly 250 offices from across the country participated in the briefing through the internet.


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"Because they are ubiquitous, we take many of these conventional chemicals for granted, and cities need to use some level of protection so they won't be used against us, the way that our transportation system was used against us in New York," said James Genovese, an international terrorism expert with the U.S. Army Soldier Biological Chemical Command. He stressed that mayors should closely monitor the large quantities of chemical materials that frequently pass through U.S. cities.

Genovese said that the U.S. Department of Justice sponsors training programs for cities to help increase awareness, preparations, and emergency medical readiness. He urged cities to direct questions to an Army helpline at 800-368-6498 and, for additional information, to check

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, who moderated the briefing, emphasized the importance of cooperation between local and federal law enforcement agencies, encouraging mayors to "combine common sense and surveillance tactics in your communities."

"The best way to maximize the value of your local communications system is to utilize it and train with it during an exercise," said Donald Heinbuch, acting Fire Chief of Operations for the Baltimore Fire Department. "You will get best results when you use your plans and figure out your deficiencies."

The webcast, accessible to the public on the web at, was the second in a series designed to help keep Mayors informed about emergency management preparedness, terrorism, public safety, and public health issues.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors will sponsor a Mayors Emergency, Safety and Security Summit on October 23-25 in Washington, DC at the Capital Hilton Hotel. Participation in the Summit will include mayors, representatives from the local police, fire and emergency response community, key federal officials, and national experts in the field of national preparedness.

The U. S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,200 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.

Contact: Lina Garcia (202) 861-6719


©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors