ANNAPOLIS – Gov. Robert Ehrlich is urging Marylanders to be more cautious in the wake of the federal government’s decision to elevate the terrorist threat level to high.
While a terrorist threat is real, the increased alert level is not a cause for alarm, Ehrlich said.
“Do not panic. Panic is never good. Just recall the words of the president after 9-11,” he said. “As you go to work, go to the grocery store . . . understand that you need to be more sensitive.”
“People need to use their common sense and report suspicious activity,” Ehrlich added.
The Bush administration Friday increased the terrorist threat level to orange in response to increased communications among terrorist cells. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and FBI Director Robert Mueller made the announcement.
“These alerts are a function of volume. We pick up discourse between bad guys…right now it’s more,” Ehrlich said.
Maryland State Police Lt. Col. Stephen Moyer said residents would see enhanced security measures.
“You will see . . . random patrol of sites that could be potential terrorist sites and constant communication with the federal agencies,” Moyer said.
An intelligence network is in place every day at all hours allowing an immediate “hook-up” with all major police departments, Moyer said.
“The message tells people that if you see something unusual, like a suspicious package or group of people, report it to us,” he said. “We want to be on the front instead of reacting.”
Any credible information would be relayed to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and distributed to the proper entities.
The Montgomery County Police Department made the information available to all of its officers shortly after the announcement, and provided an on-air broadcast to those working.
“We believe that giving the same information as presented by Ashcroft in conjunction with the (officers’) normal duties provides them with what they need to continue their vigilant watch,” said department spokesman Officer Derek Baliles. “We don’t feel like we are being left out at all.”
A bill was introduced Friday by Delegate Ann Marie Doory, D-Baltimore, to prohibit terrorism, and make terrorist threats or harboring terrorists a felony.