Regional leaders yesterday urged resolve and calm vigilance among residents as they increased security measures in the wake of terrorist bombings in London.
“If we cower in fear, if we go and hunker down in a basement somewhere, the terrorists win,” said D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, flanked by a dozen of the District’s top officials during an afternoon press conference.
Mr. Williams, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and other regional officials said they had spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who raised the threat level from Code Yellow (elevated) to Code Orange (high) for mass-transit systems.
“This is a war,” Mr. Ehrlich said during a press conference on the State House lawn in Annapolis. “We need increased vigilance.”
Four bombs exploded in three subway trains and a bus during yesterday’s morning rush hour in London, killing dozens and inuring more than 700.
“This is not just an attack on a community. It is not just an attack on the people of London. This is an attack on the freedoms of people everywhere,” Mr. Williams said.
Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said there is no specific intelligence that indicates the District is a target, but officials decided to raise the alert level to Code Orange.
Mr. Ehrlich raised his state’s threat advisory to “orange” for mass transit, meaning that passengers could be required to show a ticket and identification before entering stations.
The governor said there was no information about any specific threat to Maryland. But Mr. Ehrlich said security was increased at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and other toll bridges and tunnels. Security also was tightened at the Port of Baltimore.
Virginia’s threat level follows the national alert level, said Bob Newman, deputy assistant to George W. Foresman in the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness.
“We’re sensitized to the increased threat but continuing on in a posture that is prudent and allows us to move forward with the way we were yesterday,” Mr. Newman said.
Mr. Warner and Mr. Ehrlich yesterday discussed regional preparedness and were working to get in touch with Mr. Williams.
“In terms of ratcheting up security, all of the planning of the last four years since 9/11 went into effect today,” Mr. Warner said during an afternoon press conference. “The coordination was good, the communication was good, but in a free society, you can never be 100 percent safe.”
He applauded an increased police visibility in Virginia and said he would go about his schedule as planned.
“This is one of those evolving situations, [and] we’re going to continue to do all we can to meet those needs. This is a cooperative effort,” Mr. Warner said.
Virginia State Police are helping Metro officials where there are shortages of security. There also will be more uniformed police and police cars on roads and at mass-transit systems statewide, said Corinne Geller, state police spokeswoman.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.