WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee today approved Chairman Susan Collins’ (R-ME) legislation to provide state and local law enforcement agencies with counterterrorism technology. 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.
Senator Collins’ legislation, 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 counterterrorism technologies to state and local law enforcement agencies. The program would provide equipment and technologies to law enforcement 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.
“By providing counterterrorism 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 law enforcement officers protect communities—and themselves.”
In a letter sent to Senator Collins, FOP National President Chuck Canterbury wrote, “The Fraternal Order of Police believes very strongly that more needs to be done to improve and coordinate efforts to prevent terrorist attacks before they happen…. We believe your program takes the right approach and will enable law enforcement to fill in the technology gaps between traditional homeland security grant programs.”
“Our members will benefit from passage of this important legislation,” wrote National Sheriffs’ Association President Wayne V. Gay in a letter. “We believe that a homeland security technology transfer program will improve our capabilities and enhance our prevention mission in fighting terrorism.”
Senator Collins’ legislation would fill a technology gap left by ODP’s traditional grant program, which cannot be used to purchase advanced technologies.
Major Cities Police Chiefs Association President Harold L. Hurtt, who also wrote Collins, said, “Our departments are in dire need of cutting edge counterterrorism technologies and equipment that will help us do our job. … This is an important piece of legislation and has our full support.”