Alert, but not in a frenzy for Sept. 11, 2002 | AspenTimes.com

Alert, but not in a frenzy for Sept. 11, 2002

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Though national security agencies will take extra precautions today, local law enforcement officials and emergency personnel are planning for “business as usual” on the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The federal government announced on Tuesday that its agencies would be on a “heightened alert” today to defend against possible anniversary attacks. Colorado officials, half a continent away from the sites of the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., also tightened up security measures ? Denver International Airport, for example, introduced its first federally employed passenger security screeners on Tuesday.

However, Aspen’s observation of the day will not include unusually tight security, officials say. Instead, Sept. 11, 2002, will be a quiet day of reflection ? with an extra bit of caution thrown in.

Carrington Brown, landside operations manager for the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, said Monday that airport officials are sliding into a comfortable off-season schedule. Reduced flights mean reduced customer flow, and Brown described the airport atmosphere as “calm.”

The airport will, as usual, be wary of the approaching anniversary, Brown said. However, the administrator wasn’t able to discuss a possible increase in local security measures.

“I can’t go into detail about what we will do securitywise, or what the TSA [Transportation Security Administration] will do securitywise, but I know we’ll all be thinking more about that event than we have been in the last couple of months,” Brown said. “I know that the county and the community has some things going on that we might participate in. Otherwise, I would say ‘work as usual.'”

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Ginny Dyche, community relations officer for Aspen Valley Hospital, was also mum on 9-11 precautions.

“We will have heightened awareness, not unlike the entire United States, but the details of our security policies are something that we usually don’t discuss,” she said.

Aspen law enforcement will take the same approach ? caution, but not over-preparedness. Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Ann Stephenson reported that deputies have been busy enough this summer, 9-11 anniversary aside.

“I’d probably call it business at usual ? just the normal heightened security law enforcement has been asked to do,” she said.

Though the department believes extra patrols and expanded shifts won’t be necessary today, Stephenson said deputies will be prepared ? as they are every day of the year ? to report for duty if a problem does arise.

“It’s kind of an unwritten rule ? if the caca hits the fan, we’re all on deck,” she said.

[Jennifer Davoren’s e-mail address is jenniferd@aspentimes.com]