Governor Mark R. Warner
last month officially dedicated Virginia's combined State Police Headquarters and Emergency Operations Center in Chesterfield County. Built at the existing Virginia State Police administrative headquarters, the $15 million addition will house the administrative offices of Virginia State Police, the new Virginia Fusion Center, and the new state-of -the art Emergency/Virginia Emergency Operations Center
"These new, state-of-the-art facilities -- both the Emergency Operations Center and the new Fusion Center concept -- are remarkable accomplishments that will help protect Virginians from 21st century threats," said Governor Warner. "Additionally, our State Police will be able to unify personnel into modern office space at a time when we have finally turned around a recruitment and retention problem by investing in our troopers. For the first time in 30 years, we will finally have no vacancies in our sworn ranks."
The new Virginia Emergency Operations Center is six-times larger than the current 2,500 square foot facility housed in a Cold War-era space underneath the Virginia State Police Academy. The underground facility has been prone to flooding, and Governor Warner pledged to construct a modern, improved EOC in the days following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The new EOC, under the direction of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management
(VDEM), is scheduled to become operational by year's end.
"I spent a lot of time at the existing EOC as we worked to respond to Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and the limitations of that facility became painfully clear," Governor Warner said. "The current EOC was crowded, difficult to access, and seriously outdated. Cell phones and Blackberries don't work underground in the old EOC bunker - which is supposed to be our communications hub in a disaster. Our citizens deserve better. This new facility with the latest technology and a centralized work area will improve communication and teamwork, and ultimately will save lives.""From new technology to simply giving us more space, the new EOC greatly improves our ability to coordinate the Commonwealth's disaster response efforts," said Michael Cline, VDEM state coordinator.
The new Virginia Fusion Center, a joint operation between the Virginia State Police and VDEM, is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth. Its primary mission is to "fuse" together resources from local, state and federal agencies, and private industries, to facilitate information collection, analysis and sharing, in order to prevent or respond to terrorist attacks.
"In the post-September 11th environment, it's critical that our first responders have a comprehensive hub of information for incidents that could be terrorist-related," said Governor Warner. "The Fusion Center will communicate directly with federal agencies that need to know immediately about a possible terrorist threat."
Built to federal Department of Homeland Security standards, the secure intelligence center will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by VDEM and state police personnel. The Virginia National Guard, Virginia Department of Fire Programs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation will provide a permanent presence.
The new Virginia State Police administrative headquarters wing dedicated today also will allow VSP to merge several of its divisions and about 350 personnel currently located in rental space; thus creating an annual savings to the Department of approximately $350,000. The original state police administrative headquarters was built in 1939.
"This addition almost triples the state police's existing office space and allows us to centralize our operations," said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. "This move aids us in our efforts to enhance our effectiveness and efficiency in responding to the needs of the citizens we serve."