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Now that Wyoming is the nation's No. 1 state recipient of homeland-security money per capita, Cheyenne has access to a mobile radio system that allows different agencies to talk to one another, thanks to $52,000 in federal money. Federal money has also brought Wyoming four command vehicles; enough protective haz-mat suits for every police officer, sheriff's deputy and coroner in the state; and a robot named Miss Daisy that can help dismantle bombs and dispose of toxic chemicals. All these items will more than likely save lives. Hazmat suits can be used for highway oil spills and police raids of crystal-meth labs. As the fire fighters will tell you, they should have had this equipment years ago. Mark Young, chief of the Casper fire department, says of federal authorities, "They've done us all a favor in this state. We're not gonna waste their money."
But a strange thing has happened since Sept. 11. Moore and some of his counterparts in other rural and small states have become convinced that their turf is just as threatened as Washington, New York and Chicago. One recent morning, Moore rattled off his doomsday scenarios: "We have two major interstate highways, and a significant proportion of the traffic is hazardous materials. We have two major railroads. Also, Wyoming has major mining, major electrical generating plants and coal-bed methane. Any one of those becomes a vulnerability for a terrorist." A former FBI agent, Moore works in an office decorated with a sketch of a longhorn sheep and a picture of the burning Twin Towers with the phrase CONSTANT VIGILANCE. When I ask him how he would prioritize limited federal money, he declines to answer. "We don't have crystal balls. We just believe that we're as important as anyone else."
Over and over again, when I ask Wyoming officials about relative risk, they talk about relative worth. "Our citizens deserve the same kind of protection that they're afforded in other places in the country," says Lori Emmert, chief of police in Douglas (pop. 5,288), which has just received a new $50,000 silver RV that serves as an emergency-operations command center, paid for with federal dollars. When I ask a group of 22 fire fighters in Casper whether they feel insulted by suggestions that they should get less homeland-security money, they all nod in agreement. "No one can say Casper can't be a terrorist target," says fire fighter Roy Buck. Taking the point further, Peter Beering, terrorism-preparedness chief in Indianapolis, Ind., writes in First to Arrive, a Harvard collection of essays on emergency preparedness, "In an era of satellite television ... attacking a rural target may actually instill more fear by delivering the message that no one is safe."