Sheriff, Owens praise regional security |

Sheriff, Owens praise regional security

Ryan Graff
Post Independent Staff
Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and Gov. Bill Owens praised county and regional homeland security efforts Tuesday at a press conference in Glenwood Springs.

Vallario and Owens drew particular attention to how the state distributes its federal homeland security funds. The needs of each community are developed on a “grassroots” level, they said. Those needs are brought to the county level, then to one of nine regions in the state. Each region then fights for funding at a state level, where a 14-person committee decides what gets funded and what doesn’t, Vallario said.

Garfield County’s homeland funding is up to $2.1 million for 2005 from $1.8 in 2004. Colorado and the county are better prepared now to fight terrorism and to respond to terrorists threats than ever before, they said.

“We are far safer than we were on Sept. 11,” Owens said, but added that there will always be vulnerable targets because of the nature of a free society.

Colorado can never be totally safe, and America needs to continue to fight terrorist wherever they are, he said.

Vallario echoed Owens’ comments about being safer now than before, but said the real strides Garfield County has made is in its preparations to respond not only to terrorist attacks, but to any emergency.

“Thanks to homeland security, thanks to regionality, we’re much better able to respond than we were in the past,” he said.

Owens was on a three-day tour of the Western Slope, and brought about half of his cabinet to the press conference.

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