Friday, August 26, 2016
Billy Long: Our law enforcement must be prepared to combat terrorism
Sadly, it has become far too common that American law enforcement officials are tasked with handling an active shooter situation. The deadly attacks in Dallas, San Bernardino, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Newtown, and elsewhere are all horrific examples of the devastation these situations are to our everyday life. Our law enforcement officials put their lives on the line to protect us, so Congress must act in every way possible to make sure that they are prepared for these threats.
Today, roughly 45 percent of police agencies in America – more than 8,000 – have undergone some form of active shooter training. In light of recent events, the value of preparing our emergency responders and training them for these situations is greater than before.
However, given that the threat is clearly increasing, the House passed legislation this month to help get every police organization in America up to speed. The “Protecting Our Lives by Initiating COPS Expansion Act of 2016 (the POLICE Act) will provide the Department of Justice with the tools they need and more flexibility in funding specialized response training with existing Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS) grants. It will ensure our police professionals and other emergency responder team have proper preparedness for efficient response.
This training has been proven in the field. For Nidal Hasan’s 2009 attack on Fort Hood, it was two civilian officers who were trained at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) center in Texas became integral in stopping the bloodshed that day. The center’s curriculum is dynamic force-on-force, scenario-based training. It has been adopted by the FBI as the national standard for response, and has been provided to more than 40,000 police officers nationwide.
I am proud to have supported this bipartisan bill, which was signed into law by President Obama last month, because I know that it will make a true difference in law enforcement training and the more rapid diffusing of dangerous situations. Many law enforcement associations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, agreed by way of their full support and endorsement of the POLICE Act.
Unfortunately, terrorism is a very real danger that threatens all Americans and Department of Homeland Security experts and others believe that it is not a question of if, but when, radicals will attack again and where. We must be prepared to face this threat, and more training in our communities will save lives. I will continue doing all I can to support our law enforcement officials and emergency responders.