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ALERRT gets funds for security program

San Marcos Daily Record (10/26/2003)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has contracted with Texas State University-San Marcos to fund $745,000 in training and equipment for law enforcement personnel across the nation through the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Train-ing (ALERRT) Center here.

The contract provides for equipment and training classes to be conducted across the country.

"Defending the United States is our top priority and Texas is leading the way once again. By training law enforcement officers, the ALERRT Center is filling a critical need to better protect Americans at home," said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "I am pleased Congress has agreed to provide federal resources to advance this important initiative in the war on terrorism."

A major goal for ALERRT and the Department of Homeland Security is to sustain and build capacity for a nation-wide effort to standardize a level of preparedness among the more than 650,000 peace officers employed by law enforcement agencies across the U.S.

These are the first line officers who are responsible for protecting the lives and property of 270 million Americans against the threat of mass violence in the form of homicidal/suicidal acts, officials say.

ALERRT Executive Director Steve Griffith said, "To enable us to meet these goals, the ALERRT center and Texas State are working closely with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). By working together with a premier law enforcement training agency such as FLETC, we will be able to interface resources through standardization of this training and thereby reach smaller cities and rural areas that do not have access to or funding for training of this caliber. These officers from small town, city, and rural areas encompass the vast majority of policing resources in the U.S."

Until the ALERRT Center was established at Texas State a year ago by funding from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Texas Governor's Office, there was no permanently funded program in the country specifically charged with the development and delivery of training for first responders--those law enforcement officers who are the first to respond to acts of violence in communities, hospitals, shopping malls or schools.

The first year of funding for ALERRT was designated to create this training program to provide effective law enforcement agency responses to these events.

Federal and state support of nearly $1 million has helped to initiate the development of this concept.