Governor, top safety officials urge vigilance - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Governor, top safety officials urge vigilance following bin Laden's death

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – In the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, Gov. Bob McDonnell and the area's top public safety officials are urging Virginians to be cautious.

At Henrico's public safety building, it was supposed to be just a ceremonial bill signing; nine new laws to protect or assist Virginia's public safety officials. But on this day, it meant so much more.

"The only downside of today is that the organizers of the event could not find a bigger flag to display today," joked McDonnell.

The American flag was everywhere at the previously scheduled event, including the governor's tie as he listened, with pride, to The Star Spangled Banner.

"I don't think there's been a time that the words of the national anthem have been as sweet as they were singing today," McDonnell said.

The coincidence of it all provided a unique moment of reflection for State Police Colonel Steven Flaherty, whose first thought about the news, last night, was relief.

"My second thought immediately was, 'Okay, now what is this gonna cause to happen?'" Flaherty said.

Flaherty added there are no credible threats, but Virginia remains target-rich. And, later, Gov. McDonnell recognized the possible threat of retaliation.

"In fact, they may be more haphazard and random without organized orders from the top now that bin Laden is gone," McDonnell said.

While local laws may have little in common with the global war on terror, a common theme did emerge: to recognize the courage of those in public safety, and the ongoing need for vigilance.

"With the events of yesterday, we all need to be paying attention to our surroundings," Flaherty said.

Among the nine bills ceremonially signed today was one that set up a "blue alert" system, similar to an "Amber alert". It gets the word out quickly if somebody kills or injuries a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.

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