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Bases, law enforcement on high levels of alert
In the days after the worst terrorist attack in history, a hush fell over Kitsap County.Cars backed up near the gates of Subase Bangor, which was on its highest level of alert, and frigates and destroyers patroled Sinclair Inlet and Hood Canal.Many Kitsap residents opted to stay at home this week, not going to work for at least the first 24 hours following terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York. Churches hosted impromptu prayer vigils throughout the county.We can't stop and be flattened by this, said Alison Sonntag, acting Kitsap County clerk. To do so would let them win.The courthouse in Port Orchard remained open for business all week. Government officials wanted to show unity and leadership, not fear. We're planning on dressing up in red, white and blue on Friday to show our solidarity as Americans, Sonntag said. They can hurt us, but they can't defeat us.Other local agencies prepared to help distraught people.We've offered to help Kitsap school districts by making available our Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team, which is made up of our employees, said Janet Mayberry, director of development and community relations for Kitsap Mental Health Services. Volunteers at the Crisis Clinic of the Peninsula reported 11 phone calls related to the terrorist attacks.We're here if they need us, Mayberry said.Kitsap law enforcement agencies were at full alert in the wake of the bombings. Sheriff's deputies kept their eyes peeled, but very few suspicious incidents came to light.Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer said Jon Sandberg, a 20-year veteran of the department and member of a multi-agency bomb squad, on Sept. 13 investigated a suspicious device inside a stolen car recovered in South Kitsap by local law enforcement. He found nothing unusual.There are no reports in Kitsap County of (Muslim or Arab) residents who have been harassed, said Boyer. Even so, I believe it's important to keep the peace, and sometimes that means being proactive.The Kitsap County Council for Human Rights also had no reports of harassment of Arabs.I want to assure people their rights will be protected, Boyer said. At the same time, I think Kitsap has learned lessons, especially with the Bainbridge Island internments (during World War II). I don't think people will overreact and I have confidence people won't do anything inappropriate.If they do, they will be held accountable, Boyer added. Getting from one place to another also raised serious challenges last week. Kitsap Transit buses were unable to go on military bases, according to the agency's service development director, John Clauson.The agency established at least two park-and-ride lots from which buses transported workers to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.The shipyard put out a communication Wednesday to encourage employees to use mass transit to get to work, said Clauson.Washington State Ferries temporarily were not carrying automobiles Tuesday, citing the threat of car bombs. Auto service resumed Tuesday afternoon.Top county emergency management officials said they were ready to deal with potential threats.The intergovernmental cooperation and coordination among all the public safety agencies and Navy continues to be excellent, said Ron McAffee, director of Central Communications.