Police on alert after attacks | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Police on alert after attacks

Gregory Crofton

Flags at the police department were at half-staff Tuesday. Otherwise it was business as usual for most South Lake Tahoe government agencies.

“We will continue to move along and do what we need to do,” said Chief of Police and Fire Brad Bennett. “There’s been no indication or any reason for there to be any special concerns in South Lake Tahoe.”

Police did add extra patrols at Lake Tahoe Airport at the the request of the Federal Aviation Administration, even though it had been closed to air traffic since 8 a.m. Tuesday. Janis Brand, a spokeswoman for the airport, said it would remain closed to air traffic until it got an OK to reopen from the FAA.

Calls poured into 911 from people with a variety of concerns.

“‘Are schools open? Should I go get my kid out of school? What’s the likelihood we’re going to be a target? That’s the kind of stuff running through people’s minds,” said South Lake Tahoe police Cmdr. George Brown. “We’re telling them we’re not under any heightened state of alert at this point. Beyond that we’re trying to be a calming influence.”

Brown is asking residents to not call 911 unless there is an emergency because the line must remain open. He recommends people who want information should call the police business line, 542-6100, or get information from the media.

Despite the nationwide ban on air travel, residents do not have to worry about emergency medical air service. Care Flight, a helicopter ambulance that services Barton Memorial Hospital, is still in operation.

“As soon as we heard what’s going on we contacted the local FAA and they gave us permission for local emergency flights,” said John Morrison, director of critical care for Care Flight. “But we have stopped all training flights.”

Air tankers also have the OK to take flight and fight fires in California. Mark Johnson, fire management officer for U.S. Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said there is a special tone system in place that allows tankers to land at closed airports.

In Nevada, however, Jack Finn, a spokesman for Gov. Kenny Guinn, said the FAA ban on air traffic is in full effect.

“It is our interpretation that we can’t get those tankers in the air,” Finn said. “So we’ve got lookouts on elevated places in mountains so we can mobilize as fast as possible. If we can’t contain (a fire) with a ground crew, we’ll call on federal agencies or get a verbal waiver to get a tanker in the air.”

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