Conference may lead to regional security agreement

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(Host) A two-day homeland security conference in Burlington may yield a mutual aid agreement between Vermont and Quebec. The conference was attended by high-level officials from northeast U.S. states and Canadian provinces. They discussed security risks that affect both sides of the border.

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas says the conference and the planned agreement signify the importance of regional law enforcement in the fight against terrorism. The republican governor complimented the Bush administration’s work on security issues. But he says federal policy has stymied some regional cooperation:

(Douglas) “The creation of a new bureaucracy as large as the Homeland Security Department is going to be fraught with some confusion and burdens of organization. So we want to make sure we can cut through that, that we can work with other jurisdictions – like the Province of Quebec – without having to go through too much federal bureaucracy.”

(Host) The mutual aid agreement would allow the regional governments to share intelligence on security threats – from terrorism to drug trafficking. It also would allow the state and Canadian provinces to assist one another in emergencies or natural disasters.

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