State Leaders Target Prevention

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Officials say Mississippi's homeland security strategy will focus more on preventing and deterring terrorist threats than responding to them. Mississippi last week submitted a strategic plan for its homeland security to federal officials.

If the plan is approved by the Office for Domestic Preparedness, the state will receive $29.7 million earmarked for fiscal year 2004.

The plan was finalized as the Department for Public Safety began taking over responsibility for the state's homeland security from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Haley Barbour announced the transfer last month, along with a change in philosophy. Barbour said in his State of the State speech that the focus of homeland security has evolved from the recovery efforts after a terrorist event to the detection and prevention of a terrorist act.

DPS Commissioner Rusty Fortenberry and MEMA Director Robert Latham together reviewed the strategic plan before it was submitted.

Latham said the plan reflects a greater need for prevention, especially through the funding of law enforcement agencies, and was "exactly where we need to be headed.''