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FBI, OEMC Bosses Discuss Security Changes Since 9/11

The Chicago skyline. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Chicago skyline. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Mike Parker Mike Parker
Mike Parker has been a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is now just days away. In Chicago, two men who are working to keep us from harm here and now are saying we’re safer than we were a decade ago.

They talked with CBS 2’s Mike Parker about the new protections that are in place to help save lives.

Since the shock and carnage 10 years ago, things have changed in America and in Chicago.

Robert Grant, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Chicago, said he thinks a great deal about protecting the country and the city.

“In my job, I spend more time thinking intelligence, thinking terrorism and national security than my predecessors probably did,” Grant said.

The FBI has overhauled its counterterrorism operations. It has doubled the number of intelligence analysts and shifted many agents, including those in Chicago, from fighting traditional crime to fighting terrorists.

“There’s a sense of urgency in what we do, everyday,” says Grant. “The gas pedal is always on. There’s no sense of putting things off until tomorrow.”

Across town, the new director of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications is pledging new approaches to security. One that’s already in place is a new system that allows police and firefighters to communicate with each other by radio. First responders on 9/11 didn’t have that luxury.

“Chicago stands far and above many other cities in the ability to communicate by radio and other communications devices,” OEMC Director Gary Schenkel said.

And there’s the high tech monitoring center where cameras and microphones keep constant guard over the city.

But Schenkel said “technology is not everything.” He says protecting Chicago is also up to the citizens.

“Be vigilant, look around … the old ‘see something, say something,’” Schenkel said.

The new OEMC director, a former Marine Lt. Colonel and a federal Homeland Security official, says Chicago’s level of vigilance has increased as we near September 11th.

“Those who would do us harm,” he says, “like to celebrate anniversaries.”