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Tom Butt on Terrorism at MSNBC
December 6, 2002

After reading the October 4, 2002, E-FORUM, Richmond Police Mobilize to Fight Terrorism on Land and Sea, MSNBC asked Tom Butt to appear November 5 on the nationally televised Jerry Nachman show (hosted by Ashleigh Banfield) with Tanner Campbell of Washington Policy and Analysis to discuss the vulnerability of Ports to terrorism.

The entire show transcript can be found at http://www.msnbc.com/news/844102.asp, and Tom Buttís 15 seconds of fame is quoted below:

      BANFIELD: Tom Butt, Iím assuming that none of this is a real surprise to you, hearing these statistics and hearing that this is an easy to do, if you want to be a terrorist these days. You have got 32 miles of coastline at Richmond. You have a population of 100,000.

       Are you skeptical that you are going to be able to provide the kind of terror protection for your people that perhaps the government thinks you should?

       TOM BUTT, VICE MAYOR OF RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA: Well, yes, Iím extremely skeptical.

       And I think that the situation weíre in now is that there are no real guidelines from the government about what they expect from local governments. And yet thereís some presumption that local governments should have a role in this. And I think most local governments want to have a role in it, but they donít know what to do and they donít have the funding to do it.

       And, as you said, Richmond is probably a good example of the daunting challenge: 32 miles of shoreline on the San Francisco Bay. Not only do we have an active port and shipping coming in and out of it, including 18 million metric tons of petrochemical products annually, because we have one of the United Statesí largest refineries there, the Chevron/Texaco refinery.

       That refinery alone has somewhere around 10 to 20 miles of fence line, five to eight miles of waterfront on the bay. I mean, how are you going to deal with that when you have a police force of 186 officers?

       BANFIELD: And, obviously, they have been trained to do things like look for muggers and pick-pocketers and rapists, etcetera. So, are you of the school of thought that many local officials are? ďI need to spend my money on something where itís more likely one of my people might become a victim, regular crime, as opposed to terrorism, which is a real shot in the dark.Ē

       BUTT: Well, thatís absolutely true.

       I get complaints every day about people who feel that their security, as residents of Richmond, against those types of common crimes are a concern. I have yet to get a call from somebody saying theyíre concerned about a terrorist attack in Richmond. Itís just not something thatís on peopleís minds.

       It is on the mind of our public safety people. And I know theyíre involved in it. But I think theyíre very frustrated because they really donít have the resources to do anything meaningful.