Wisconsin got fewer federal dollars to carry out Homeland Security activities last year. But the state's Adjutant General says law enforcement agencies made good use of the money they got to help first responders prepare for potential disasters or terrorist attacks.
The state got $2.8 million for Homeland Security for fiscal year 2012, less than half what it received the year before Major General Donald Dunbar commands the Wisconsin National Guard. He points to the response of law enforcement to the attack on the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek this summer as an example of how those dollars have been used for training different law enforcement agencies to work together. He says in that case, officials drew on the experience of the police response to the 2008 attack on the Taj Mahal hotel in India, "The seeds on this response really go back to the lessons we had learned in the Mumbai attack. And the Milwaukee police department was instrumental in working with the Department of Homeland Security in developing training scenarios, and then the FBI took the lead in working with Oak Creek, and I think that both the Oak Creek police department and the FBI would say that it was handled very well."
Dunbar says a major priority moving forward in using federal Homeland Security dollars will be beefing up the state's ability to handle cyber-attacks. But he says preventing such attacks is next to impossible, "One thing I can tell you for sure is that you can't build a wall big enough to defend yourself against a cyber- attack. What we really have to develop is layered defenses that allow you to detect that there's been a problem and then strategies to fix that problem."
Dunbar says both he and the governor have been given security clearance to review federal information about potential terror attacks of all kinds and he briefs the governor regularly on any that might pose a threat in Wisconsin.