Terrorism threats have no impact on plan to trim local terrorism efforts

DeWayne Bartels

Terrorism threats dominating the national news this week are not impacting plans to trim an anti-terrorism position from the Peoria Police Department to address a $12 million city budget deficit.

Police departments around the nation received security bulletins on Monday. The Associated Press, which obtained copies of the alerts, reported the bulletins warn police agencies to be on the lookout for terrorism attacks on stadiums, entertainment complexes and hotels. 

The alerts came on the heels of arrests Sept. 20 of Najibullah Zazi, 24, a legal permanent resident from Afghanistan, and his father Mohammed Wali Zazi, 53, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan in Colorado and Ahmad Wais Afzali, 37, a legal permanent resident from Afghanistan in New York on charges of making false statements to federal agents in an ongoing terror investigation.

David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security with the U.S. Department of Justice in a U.S. Department of Justice press release, said the arrests are part of an "ongoing and fast-paced investigation."

Kris said there is no specific information regarding the timing, location or target of any planned attack.

"As always, however, the American people should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to their local authorities,” Kris said.

That has not changed Settingsgaard's mind about trimming an anti-terrorism position from the police department budget.

"No, I'm not reconsidering," Settingsgaard said in an e-mail response to a question Tuesday. Settingsgaard was asked whether the latest bulletins have caused him to reconsider his decision.

"Terrorism alerts are not that uncommon," he said. "Local policing is a higher priority for my agency than international terrorism. Terrorism is and should be the primary responsibility of the feds."

Settingsgaard, on Aug. 18, while addressing budget cuts to the department told the Peoria City Council he would recommend withdrawing from the Joint Terrorism Task Force.