Department of Safety & Homeland Security Partners with Federal, State Agencies for Statewide Safety OperationTuesday, October 18, 2011 | 03:37 pm
NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security on Tuesday partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and several other federal and state agencies for a safety enforcement and awareness operation on Tennessee’s interstates and two metropolitan-area bus stations. The agencies conducted a Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) operation at scale complexes where trucks and large vehicles are weighed. The VIPR operation was also conducted at two regional bus terminals in Nashville and Knoxville.
The TSA reports that Tuesday’s operation is the first ever instance where simultaneous state-wide VIPR operations have been held on this level—in seven locations, including:
· the northbound I-65 scale complex, just south of the Kentucky border (the southbound scale complex is currently closed for renovations);
· both scale complexes on I-24 near Manchester;
· both scale complexes on I-40 in Knoxville near the I-75 interchange;
· both scale complexes on I-81 near Greenville;
· both scale complexes on I-40 near Brownsville;
· the Knoxville Greyhound station; and
· the Metro Transit Authority’s Music City Central hub in Nashville.
The VIPR operation ran from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. local time at each location.
At each of these locations, federal and state agents inspected trucks and other vehicles to identify security threats. Tuesday’s operation was not based on any specific threat, but provided a visible deterrence and detection security presence across Tennessee.
“Operations such as this strengthen relationships and enhance coordination between federal and state Homeland Security officials, and local law enforcement by using a ‘team of teams’ approach,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said. VIPR operations enable Homeland Security officials and local law enforcement to develop joint operational security processes and procedures in advance of terrorism threats and attacks, Gibbons noted.
Another key element of Tuesday’s VIPR operation was creating awareness of the First Observer Highway Security Program. First Observer is a national safety and security program in which federal and state law enforcement officials rely on the skills, experiences, and “savvy” of America’s transportation professionals. Through the First Observer program, truck drivers are educated to observe their surroundings as they travel across the country to look for suspicious or unusual behavior. First Observer utilizes these transportation professionals to help protect the critical infrastructure that moves goods and services and people across the United States. Officials talked to and distributed information about First Observer to all truck drivers who passed through the scale complexes on Tuesday.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public. The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.