What is Homeland Security? Homeland Security is a concerted State and National effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the State, reduce our vulnerability to terrorism and or any disaster that may occur, minimize the damage, and recover from events that do occur.
Mississippi has a multi-hazard approach to emergency planning, including terrorism. This means that the state has plans in place to cover all types of disasters. In fact, the State published an Annex to the Comprehensive Plan addressing terrorism preparedness and response in 1999. Since September 11, 2001, the focus has been updating the state's emergency response plan in areas specifically relating to terrorism. The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security was created through Executive Order 872 and repositioned under the authority of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety through Executive Order 916.
MISSISSIPPI OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security (MOHS) is to partner with federal, state, and local emergency response personnel during both man-made and natural disasters, as well as working to prevent, protect, and respond to threats and/or acts of terrorism within our state. This office will act as the nexus for information sharing through its direction of the Mississippi Analysis and Information Center (MSAIC) and will lead efforts in "All Hazard" prevention, preparedness, and response by continuing to foster strong partnerships across professional response disciplines. MOHS will further the education of the Mississippi citizenry through awareness and outreach efforts. These efforts are accomplished through training, equipping, and informing the populace about the steps necessary to keep themselves and their communities vigilant and prepared.
MISSISSIPPI’S EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN
The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security (MOHS) is leading a multi-agency task force charged with preparing state government to deal with terrorism. Immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Governor asked state agencies to re-energize their domestic preparedness efforts. As a result, the office enhanced the current capabilities and assets of state government and used this information to refine the Homeland Security components of the state’s emergency response plan. To accomplish this, the Homeland Security office identified areas in need of upgrading consistent with the national response plan and began the revitalization process. Other agencies are assisting in the process as well, law enforcement responder agencies and Citizen Corps teams are currently engaged in the effort to promote and maintain a safe environment. Additionally, MOHS is working with local agencies to establish, equip, and train Regional Response Teams capable of responding to any type of Terrorist incident. This revised plan will be supportive of both the State and National strategies.
CRITICAL ASSETS IDENTIFICATION
Governors Barbour and Musgrove made identification and protection of Mississippi’s critical assets a top priority of the state’s Homeland Security Initiative against terrorism. This critical asset plan ensures that the state government is better prepared to protect those critical assets and services that are important to the welfare of Mississippians.
The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security has been working with government and private sector partners to compile an inventory of the state's critical assets. These critical assets include infrastructure (Dams, power plants, etc..), locations, or events where large groups of people gather, and symbols of power, such as the State Capitol Building.
STATE EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER
This facility activated for several days immediately following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The Emergency Operations Center is in "warm" status, meaning it can be activated and operational at a moment's notice. The State Emergency Operations Center is the managing arm over Mississippi’s deployment of regional emergency first response teams, and would activate the responders if a terrorist event were to occur.
STANDARDIZED INCIDENT RESPONSE
Mississippi is prepared to respond to any incident, including terrorism, using the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Initially, training was provided to emergency responders in all eighty-two counties in Mississippi to standardize the system, manage incidents and will enable all Emergency First Responders to function in a multi-discipline and multi-jurisdictional response and better coordinate their efforts through a seamless integration of resources.
Executive Order 932, signed by Governor Haley Barbour on May 5, 2005, implemented NIMS as the State standard for all responses.
WORKING WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT PARTNERS
The backbone of Mississippi’s Homeland Security lies in the Office of Homeland Security, which seeks to provide leadership in the deterrence, prevention, mitigation, and recovery of any and all terrorist activities and actions. In this vein, Homeland Security could not exist without the assistance of local and state law enforcement responders and the participation of the local populace. It is through the cooperation and dedication of all Mississippians and Americans alike that Homeland Security is able to effectively complete its mission.