The greatest danger to Pennsylvanians is less likely to come from terrorists plotting attacks halfway around the world than from a homegrown extremist in their own backyard, the state's homeland security chief said Monday.
"The 'lone wolf' doesn't need ISIS," Homeland Security Director Marcus Brown said at a terrorism awareness and response symposium in King of Prussia. "They're much less pushing the organized attack from ISIS to the United States, they're saying, 'Go do something, don't wait for us to tell you.' "
Brown was among more than 600 law enforcement personnel gathered at the Valley Forge Sheraton for the daylong conference put on by the state. The speakers included a London-based detective trained in bomb scene management, the director of facility security for the Eagles, and the inspector of counterterrorism for the New York City Police Department.
Because of the nature of the presentations, the conference was closed to the public. Brown spoke during an interview between sessions.
The state's antiterrorism chief said events such as Philadelphia's Democratic National Convention and last year's papal visit were public safety successes, but not reason for police or citizens to let down their guard.
"These are very difficult situations," he said. "If we can just learn a little bit from each one of them, we're hoping to just make Pennsylvania a little safer."
The prospect of lone wolf attacks, such as what happened in San Bernardino, Calif., or Orlando, makes the task even harder. When people are working alone, he said, there is less intelligence available, which makes it difficult to predict, Brown said.
"The 'see something, say something' mantra that we've been pushing for years needs to be at the forefront of people's thoughts," Brown said. "We don't have enough eyes, everybody's got to be aware."