Gov. Scott Pitches Counterterrorism Funding In Statewide Stops

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Gov. Rick Scott made several stops across the state on Thursday to tout his request of nearly $6 million to bolster anti-terrorism squads across Florida.

The governor stopped in Tampa in the morning and spoke at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Miami Regional Operations Center in the afternoon.

In making his pitch for the counterterrorism funding, Scott drew upon the “ISIS-inspired” massacre of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last June, which the governor said was “an attempt to rip at the seams of our society.”

“No family should go through what so many experienced after the attack on the Pulse nightclub,” Scott said. “And we will do everything in our power to make sure this never happens again.”

The shooter, St. Lucie County resident Omar Mateen, was killed by police.

The money sought by Scott would fund 46 new special agent and analyst positions, which would be divided among seven regions across the state whose sole purpose will be counterterrorism, according to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.

The FDLE already coordinates with the seven regional joint task forces, including one in Miami-Dade, where local, state and federal law enforcement agencies coordinate intelligence gathering on possible terrorist threats.  The agency also oversees the main Florida Fusion Center in Tallahassee that coordinates with the regional centers.  The Fusion Centers were created soon after the 9/11 terror attack on America, after it became clear agencies needed to work together and share information in order to “connect the dots” as potential terror threats develop.

“As the threats to our nation increase, FDLE is ready to move to the next level,” Swearingen said.  While FDLE agents already follow up on the possible terror threats, the newly created position’s will focus only on that and no other types of crime.

Swearingen said that while federal law enforcement officials do “a great job,” they “have said they do not have sufficient resources to combat terrorism on their own.”

State lawmakers, faced with a tightening fiscal outlook, will craft the budget during the 60-day legislative session that begins March 7th. The 2017-2018 budget year starts July 1st.

In Miami-Dade, governor Scott said he is confident funding for the new anti-terror effort will be obtainable.

“Everyone wants to live in a safe neighborhood,” the governor said.

The News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner contributed to this report.

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