Helping Connecticut Families Save for Education Expenses

September 15, 2006

September 11th, 2006 marked the fifth anniversary of the most devastating attack on our homeland in the country’s history. Across Connecticut and across the nation, memorials were held to remember those who lost their lives. I send my best wishes to all those surviving family and friends who lost a loved one in the attacks.

Certainly, that day changed the lives of everyone in Connecticut. This fifth anniversary marks an appropriate time to look at some of the progress our State has made in protecting its citizens and making the state safer.

Following 9/11, Connecticut, like most states across the nation, made homeland security a bigger priority. It formed an entirely new State Agency, the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, currently run by Commissioner James “Skip” Thomas and East Haven’s favorite son, Deputy Commissioner Wayne Sanford. The new department combined the Office of Emergency Management within the Military Department and the Homeland Security Division of the Department of Public Safety.

Its mission was to better direct and coordinate all available resources to protect the life and property of the citizens of Connecticut in the event of a disaster or crisis. Through a collaborative program of prevention, planning, preparedness, response, recovery, and public education, the state has streamlined it response efforts and ensured improved citizen safety.

For instance, DEMHS has divided the state into five (5) emergency planning regions and is organizing planning teams in each of the five regions to develop Regional Emergency Response Plans. The area coordinators and their staff are the primary interface with local officials, including Emergency Managers and Chief Elected Officials, of all 169 towns in Connecticut. The 34th State Senatorial District is located in Region 2 and its main office is located at 1111 Country Club Road in Middletown and can be reached at (860) 685-8105.

The State has also partnered with the federal government and employs the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) to respond to any emergency, terrorism included.

Another big part of protecting residents involves being more vigilant in guarding against identity theft. After all, the 9/11 hijackers used drivers’ licenses to obtain plane tickets and establish residency in the United States. The State Department of Motor Vehicles, led by Commissioner William Ramirez, has put in place a variety of processes and programs to ensure that identities of Connecticut citizens are protected.

After 9/11, a new document integrity unit was formed to help set standards to help the DMV fine-tune its identity checking prior to issuing licenses. DMV is also doing Social Security verifications to help determine identities and is even conducting biometric scanning of facial images to determine if the same image appears on two different licenses.

The Department has also teamed up with Connecticut State Police to help follow-up on any information it has received regarding document fraud or any attempt to commit fraud.

The State each day is continually looking to better protect you. For instance, the legislature is examining bills that would make even more changes to the DMV including permitting the agency to issue a temporary license for a period longer than 60 days while the application and supporting documentation are verified as well as require DMV to ask each job applicant to submit to state and national criminal background checks.

Our State government is committed to ensuring that the attacks of 9/11 are never repeated. If you have any suggestions on what the state can continue to do to protect residents, please call my office toll-free at 1(800) 841-1421 or e-mail me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you.