Few Casino Comply With Homeland Security Law

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Only 14 Nevada hotel-casinos have complied with a new homeland security law requiring major resorts to file an emergency response plan with the state and police.

But the law passed by the 2003 Legislature contains no penalties for failure to comply, and the state Emergency Management Division has no plans to request the plans.

Only 13 Southern Nevada resorts and one Reno casino have filed the plans so far.

The law was designed to let firefighters, police and other emergency responders know how the properties would react in the event of a terrorist attack or other disaster. The law affects only resorts with more than 200 rooms.

Frank Siracusa, the state's emergency management chief, said his agency is powerless to enforce the law.

"We're trying to make sense of it ourselves," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Jerry Bussell, chairman of the state's Homeland Security Commission, said he has no authority to enforce the law but wants the commission to address the problem.

"I do think that is an area of oversight," he said. "We need to make sure they understand what we are asking them to do or go back to the Legislature and make some changes."

Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, who co-sponsored the bill, said it's common for such laws to lack enforcement provisions.

"I'm sure that if the local police department was more persuasive the plans would be forthcoming," Perkins said. "If the plans are not yet complete, it would benefit both the property and the police department to collaborate on their completion."

Plans must include the location of emergency equipment and hazardous materials, an evacuation program, and a description of internal and external access routes.

Reno police Sgt. Jerry Tone said his agency doesn't plan to request the plans from Reno resorts.

"We are not going to go out there and force them to comply," Tone said. "If they don't comply, I don't know of any built-in ramifications from the state. It is really up to them."

Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, said he was surprised by the lack of response.

"The casino industry had no objection to being included in there," he said. "In fact, they really felt they were one of the targets that terrorists would look to."

But some casino executives said they weren't even aware of the law.

"You are the first one to tell me anything about this," said Ferenc Szony, chief of Reno's Sands Regency.


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