Senate Committee Approves $50 Million Direct First Responder Technology Program
By Michael V. Marzal, USCM Intern
November 3, 2003
The Senate Governmental Affairs committee has approved legislation (S.1612) on October 22 that would establish an advanced technology, equipment, and information transfer program within the Department of Homeland Security. The Homeland Security Technology Improvement Act would authorize $50 million per year through 2014 for the Director of the Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) to provide advanced counter-terrorism technology, equipment, and information to law enforcement agencies and first responders to help them prevent, detect, and apprehend terrorists.
"By providing counter-terrorism technology to law enforcement agencies, we can help our first responders to become -first preventers,-" said Senator Susan Collins (ME), who chairs the committee.
New technologies would be made available to local governments on an annual basis. State and local law enforcement agencies that wish to acquire approved technologies, equipment, and information would be allowed to apply directly to the advisory committee. Once the application is approved, the transfer of technology, equipment, and information would be provided to local and state law enforcement agencies. Local and state law enforcement could also apply for additional training in the detection and prevention of terrorism. Senator Collins' legislation would fill a technology gap left by the ODP traditional grant program, which cannot be used to purchase advanced technologies.
To achieve all this, this legislation would establish an advisory committee comprised of retired and active-duty law enforcement officials from geographically diverse regions. This advisory committee will also consult with state and local law enforcement agencies in order to maximize the effectiveness of the technologies, equipment, and information technologies available to law enforcement agencies.