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FBI extends security alert

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WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has renewed its call for U.S. law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant for unspecified threats, extending the current high alert status for three months and covering the Winter Olympics in Utah.

"The FBI issued a general alert to local law enforcement agencies extending previous alerts," Homeland Security Office spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Thursday. "It urges them to notify the FBI of anything suspicious or unusual."

Johndroe said the extension until March 11 was not prompted by a particular threat but was based on "a continued high level of generalized threat information."

Extending the alert through March 11 will keep law enforcement agencies on a high state of vigilance through the Winter Olympics, which run from Feb. 8 to 24. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge is to visit Salt Lake City next Thursday for a briefing on Olympic security plans, Johndroe said. Johndroe said the new warning went out to 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the nation Wednesday. But unlike previous alerts, this one did not come in a public announcement by Ridge.

"Governor Ridge did not feel it was necessary to make an announcement, but urges people to continue to be aware and report anything suspicious or usual to local law enforcement," his spokesman said.

Ridge is planning next week to spend time with Utah Commissioner of Public Safety Robert Flowers to discuss Utah's homeland security and Olympic public safety efforts.

Flowers said he'll also be discussing a proposal with Ridge to establish a training center for several Western states that could be based out of Camp Williams, located near the Point of the Mountain between Salt Lake and Utah counties.

The training center would cost between $12 and $15 million and will be covered by federal funds, Flowers said. The training center would bring law enforcement from several Western states together to train in various homeland security techniques.

Flowers proposed the idea to Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, who then forwarded the proposal to Ridge.

"It's very preliminary," Flowers said of the proposal. In describing Ridge's impending visit, he added: "He's kind of out here idea shopping."