Collins: Bill would better counterterrorism efforts

A bill introduced today in Congress would provide state and local law enforcement agencies with counterterrorism technology.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the Homeland Security Technology Improvement Act, which she said would help prevent another terrorist attack like those Sept. 11, 2001 in New York and Washington. Collins is chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the Department of Homeland Security.

"We are safer as a nation than we were two years ago, but there is still much room for improvement," Collins said. "That's why I am introducing legislation to enable our state and local law enforcement agencies to gain access to technology that will help them detect and thwart terrorist attacks before they occur."

The legislation would create a program within the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Domestic Preparedness to identify and transfer advanced counterterrorism technologies to state and local law enforcement agencies.

The program would provide equipment and technologies to law enforcement that would expand their investigative capabilities and help prevent future attacks. The bill would authorize $30 million annually for ODP to establish and run the program.

"Law enforcement agencies protecting borders, ports and high-threat areas would be able to more easily secure the cutting-edge detection and monitoring equipment and technologies that they need," Collins said.

ODP's traditional grant program cannot be used to purchase advanced technologies, Collins said. She said the program created through the bill also would help focus homeland security research and development efforts on counterterrorism technologies.

The National Sheriffs' Association, the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police support Collins' legislation, according to the Governmental Affairs Committee.

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