Security increased throughout Oklahoma

Monday, December 22nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Security was stepped up at state buildings and airports Monday as Oklahoma moved its terror alert level from ``elevated'' to ``high'' along with the rest of the nation.

The Oklahoma Capitol and other state buildings were requiring visitors to show identification and have their parcels checked, said Jennifer Fisher, a police officer with the Capitol division of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Kerry Pettingill, deputy director for the Office of Homeland Security, said longer waits were to be expected at airports and bus stations.

Tulsa International Airport added extra security guards for the terminal building and the grounds.

Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City also added an extra policeman when the threat level increased, said spokeswoman Karen Carney. She also warned travelers to make sure to leave Christmas presents unwrapped.

Both airports were recommending that travelers arrive 90 minutes early.

Pettingill said the state continues to be on heightened alert for trucks shipping chemicals that could be used as weapons, but he emphasized there has been no specific threats.

Many Oklahomans seemed to be taking the increased terror alert level in stride.

Tina Tanksley, smoking Monday outside the Bank of Oklahoma Tower in Tulsa, said she feels safe.

She works on the 44th floor of the bank tower, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, who also designed the World Trade Center Towers. Tanksley doesn't expect another a terrorist attack.

``They already tried that one time, so I doubt it will happen again,'' she said.

Matt Thompson of Tuttle, shopping at the Penn Square Mall Monday, said he won't let the terror alert affect his daily habits.

``If they want to put more guards out and have more security in different areas, I would be one that would welcome that,'' he said.

A major factor in the decision to raise the nation's terror level was the holiday season, when more people are distracted and traveling and large numbers of people gather at events.

The decision to go from ``yellow'' to ``orange'' on the terror risk scale was also based on specific, corroborated intelligence that al-Qaida may soon attempt a coordinated attack.

Starting next month, standard security for most state buildings will include metal detectors and X-ray machines for bags.