© St. Petersburg Times, published September 9, 2002
Sheriff Richard Nugent will station extra deputies across the county on Wednesday to watch the government center, airport and local schools on the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Nugent said his officers will pay close attention to the county's only mosque, on Barclay Avenue west of Brooksville, in case anyone tries to vandalize it or otherwise threaten the local Muslim community.
Last year, someone shot a bullet at a row of east-facing windows in the mosque, where a prayer leader stands during nightly worship sessions.
Nugent said his deputies had been running extra patrols around the mosque since the arrest last month of a 37-year-old podiatrist from Seminole who, authorities said, had compiled a list of 50 Islamic centers and mosques in Florida.
Authorities said Robert Jay Goldstein had an arsenal of weapons and had planned a military-style mission to destroy buildings and kill Muslims.
"That unnerved a number of people in our Muslim community," Nugent said, adding that the Sheriff's Office had started its extra patrols earlier than planned because of Goldstein's arrest.
He said that since Sept. 11 many of his officers had been better trained to deal with possible terrorist attacks. The Sheriff's Office bought four hazardous materials suits and has trained officers with a regional terrorism task force, which has led seminars on dealing with weapons of mass destruction.
Although Hernando County does not have any high-profile targets, Nugent said, he will send additional officers to patrol several buildings, including the Hernando County Government Center and a local synagogue.
"We hope everything goes smoothly," he said.
-- Jamie Jones covers law enforcement and courts in Hernando County and can be reached at 754-6114. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.