Posted by Secretary Janet Napolitano
On the 16th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, it is important to take a moment to remember this awful tragedy, while also celebrating the stories of recovery and resilience that have emerged since.
The Oklahoma City bombing is particularly important to me – as the U.S. Attorney for Arizona at the time, I was charged with helping lead a portion of the criminal investigation into the bombing, which Timothy McVeigh planned with an associate in Arizona.
Since that terrible day 16 years ago, our country has made great strides in enhancing our communities’ abilities to prevent, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism.
Importantly, over the past two years, we have refocused our efforts around a simple but powerful idea: that homeland security starts with hometown security, and we all play a role in keeping our country safe.
As part of this approach, we have expanded the “If You See Something, Say Something,” campaign to more than 9,000 government facilities nationwide, as well as to local transit systems, professional sports leagues, Walmart, Mall of America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the general aviation industry, and state and local fusion centers across the country.
We’ve also worked to expand the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative – an administration effort to train state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism, crime and other threats; standardize how those observations are documented and analyzed; and expand and enhance the sharing of those reports with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DHS – to communities throughout the country.
We’ve implemented new security standards for all federal buildings and facilities across our country and deployed new risk assessment tools to help our federal inspectors increase protection and reduce vulnerabilities.
And we have implemented a comprehensive initiative to counter threats of violent extremism within our country, working closely with state and local law enforcement and communities themselves to recognize potential indicators or warning signs of extremism.
Preventing acts of terrorism requires all of us to do our part. We can’t seal our country under a glass dome or guarantee there will never again be another terrorist attack. But we can continue to work day and night to do everything we can to increase our preparedness and resilience in the face of ever changing threats.
Oklahoma City is an example to all of us of how a community responded to a tragedy with unflinching courage, strength, and resilience. Last year I had the honor of meeting with some of these survivors and their families and visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. This year, FEMA Deputy Administrator Tim Manning will be there on behalf of the Department.
Today, we all remember Oklahoma City as if it were our own hometown. We remember the lives lost on that day, but also the inspiring stories of survival. And we learn from and honor the example of our fellow citizens in Oklahoma City by dedicating ourselves to building communities across the country that are safer, stronger and more resilient to threats than ever before.