WASHINGTON – The Senate late Wednesday approved legislation sponsored by
Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Joe Lieberman (D-CT) to provide state and local law enforcement agencies with technology to prevent and fight terrorism.
The Homeland Security Technology Improvement Act (S. 1612), would create a technology transfer program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify and transfer advanced counter-terrorism technologies to state and local law enforcement agencies. The program would provide equipment and technologies to state and local law enforcement officers to expand their investigative capabilities and to prevent future attacks. The bill would authorize $50 million each year for the DHS Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) to establish and run the program, in coordination with the Science and Technology Directorate.
“We need to focus our efforts on preventing terrorist attacks before they occur. By providing counter-terrorism technology to law enforcement agencies, we can help our first responders to become ‘first preventers,'” said Senator Collins. “New technologies lead to more effective equipment that will help police officers and sheriffs protect communities—and themselves.”
“Twenty-first century enemies need to be met with 21st century weapons. As the most technologically advanced nation on the globe, the least we can do is equip our state and local responders with the advanced tools we know can help thwart terrorists’ evil intentions,” said Senator Lieberman.
The legislation would fill a technology gap left by ODP’s traditional grant program, which cannot be used to purchase advanced technologies. The Homeland Department Secretary may also expand the program to other first responder groups.
The legislation, which was approved unanimously, has been endorsed by four
of the nation’s most respected law enforcement organizations—the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.