Ill. homeland security group includes local execs

Illinois Terrorism Task Force

Local officials are formally part of homeland security funding and policy decisions in Illinois, with a new working group formed and convened this week by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The Elected Officials Working Group for Homeland Security will serve as the primary link between the officials on the Illinois Terrorism Task Force and cities and towns.

The task force is made up of more than 60 state and federal agencies, local leaders and public associations. However, many inside and outside of government — including the president's Homeland Security Advisory Council — have stressed the need for state officials to include all local leaders in planning and the development of long-term strategies.

The Illinois working group has three main goals:

Provide direct local input to the task force on funding, disaster planning and other issues.

Serve as a central point for the task force to provide timely information to local leaders.

Help organize task force efforts to prepare and train first responders.

"For this to be as effective as possible, it's very important that we know the concerns, needs and resources in each community, which requires that we establish and maintain a two-way line of communications with local officials," wrote Mike Chamness, chairman of the task force, in a statement. "This new working group will make that happen."

Fifteen mayors and other local leaders participated in the first meeting, held Nov. 3.

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