The assessors, heading Gov. Fletcher's "Premier Homeland Security Initiative," are touring 16 city facilities to conduct local threat assessment vulnerabilities.
Prestonsburg is the 10th of 60 Kentucky communities to take part in the program, spokeswoman Jacinta Manning said.
"We were invited here by leaders of this community and it was so good on their part for taking the initiative to make their community safer," Manning said. "That's a really proactive stance for them. A lot of people could say, 'No, that can't happen here.' They responded by saying that it may not happen, but we're going to be prepared if it does. That's a really progressive stance to take."
Prestonsburg Police Chief Mike Omerod, coordinator of the city's assessment program, said assessors will tour city schools, court buildings, the water and sewer plant, and Highlands Regional Medical Center this week.
The Homeland Security initiative focuses on preventing hostile acts and crime by identifying security weaknesses through a system of risk assessments and recommendations for improvement.
Assessors examined the physical structure of Prestonsburg High School yesterday, looking for possible security problems. They also interviewed Principal Ted George and employees at the school to determine whether policies are in place and are recognized and utilized, when necessary, by the staff at the school.
"There is no right or wrong," Manning said. "It isn't a pass or fail situation. We're just here trying to make things better."
Team Leader Drexel Neal said that the city's most effective way of combating hostile crimes or acts of terrorism is establishing good procedural training methods like mock disasters or drills.
The city police department trained officers during a mock school shooting at the high school last week and Omerod says they are planning a mock disaster in May.
Another emphasis, Drexel said, should revolve around the city's ability to keep continuous lines of inter-agency communication open with readily available radio equipment, phone lists and resource lists, during a disaster.
Once the assessment is complete, Kentucky Community Preparedness Program assessors will declare the city as a "Ready and Prepared Kentucky Community." The city will be eligible for up to $10,000 in reimbursement funds to make recommended security changes.
Drexel said yesterday that most recommended changes revolve around the "little, inexpensive details" like implementing camera systems and locks.
The program, funded by grants from the state's Homeland Security Department, will help point out other security problems at city facilities, Omerod said, and provide additional training for city police officers who are escorting the assessment teams this week.
The Kentucky Community Preparedness Program, an extension of the Department of Criminal Justice Training's homeland security initiative, is funded by a $2.4 million grand from the state office of Homeland security.
Inspections throughout the state began last month and will continue until assessments are completed during the next 12 months, Manning said.