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Preparing for the worst

What You Should Know About Weapons of Mass Destruction Gear

Just before Christmas 2002, there was precious little peace on earth or good will toward men. The Washington Post reported that Al Qaeda had acquired nerve gas from the Iraqi stockpiles, the Orange County (Fla.) Sheriff's Department requested that its 1,400 deputies volunteer for smallpox inoculations, and North Korea revived its nuclear weapons program.

Less than two years ago, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) such as gas, viruses, and nukes were mostly the stuff of Tom Clancy novels, not the everyday concern of the nation's law enforcement. But that was before 9/11.

Now, every exhibit of police equipment looks like the dressing room for Armageddon. And if you look at the articles and ads in this or any other law enforcement publication, you'll see respirators, hazardous materials suits, decontamination systems, and all kinds of WMD gear. It's enough to convince you that you are about a million unfunded dollars and five years behind the curve, and that the end of your community as you know it is behind every bush or inside of every container ship or train car.

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