The City of Houston will receive a $1.7 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enhance security, and build capacity to prepare for, prevent, and respond to complex coordinated terrorist attacks. Recent terrorist attacks around the world, such as the November 2015 attacks in Paris, highlight the emerging threat of complex coordinated terrorist attacks.
“We’re happy that DHS has continued to recognize the risk to Houston and other major urban areas for acts of terrorism,” said Dennis Storemski, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety & Homeland Security. “As the nature of the nature of these acts of terrorism changes, we need to develop best practices, and ensure that all of our public safety personnel are ready to respond in a coordinated way.”
Complex coordinated terrorist attacks are acts of terrorism that:
- involve synchronized and independent team(s) at multiple locations
- are conducted sequentially or in close succession
- are initiated with little or no warning
- employ one or more weapon systems
- and intended to result in large numbers of casualties
Houston’s application was one of 29 agencies nationwide, and one of 5 in Texas, selected to participate in this initiative, which is designed to develop and implement effective, sustainable, and regional approaches for enhancing preparedness for complex coordinated terrorist attacks.
The City of Houston’s application, which has been recommended for funding by DHS, includes a plan to build capabilities through planning, training and exercises. Specifically, the City will use the grant to: conduct a gap analysis of current processes, establish a program to improve these gaps, develop training programs, and conduct regional exercises. One of the concepts that distinguished Houston’s application was an innovative approach to training emergency responders using web-based technology, which allows for more flexibility.
Through this initiative, Houston will continue to strengthen its capacity for building and sustaining capabilities as it relates to these types of incidents. The grant is expected to be fully awarded to the City in the fall of 2017.