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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - September 18, 2008)

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By Mr. REID (for Mr. BIDEN):

S. 3524. A bill to improve the Office for State and Local Law Enforcement, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, since September 11, 2001, our Nation has taken significant steps to improve our national security. However, to improve our ability to prevent and respond to a future terrorist attack we need to fundamentally change the working relationship between our Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. The Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Improvements Act of 2008 will do this by making State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies full partners with Federal agencies in homeland security policymaking and by ensuring that these agencies have the resources they need to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks or other major incidents.

As chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, I regularly talk to police chiefs and sheriffs throughout this country. These men and women are on the front lines of protecting our communities from a host of dangers in these difficult times. They know where our vulnerabilities are and what it will take to keep our families and neighborhoods safe, but, to put it simply, we haven't been listening. Policymakers haven't been listening to the people on the ground, leaving a critical gap in homeland security prevention, preparation, and incident response capabilities.

The Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Improvements Act of 2008 makes a number of important improvements to this situation that I believe will strengthen our ability to prevent and, if necessary, effectively respond to a major terrorist incident.

First, the act will ensure that state and local law enforcement agencies are full partners in both crime fighting and homeland security by giving the Assistant Secretary for State and Local Law Enforcement the appropriate budget and program management authority.

Second, the act will ensure that state and local law enforcement agencies have the resources needed to prevent and respond to terrorist acts by fully funding the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program, LETP, as a separate initiative. The LETPP is the only funding resource in the Department of Homeland Security dedicated solely to meeting the unique needs of law enforcement as they try to protect our communities from terrorism.

Third, the act ensures that first responders in local law enforcement have the resources they need to effectively react to a terrorist incident by establishing the Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program, CEDAP, as an authorized program. The CEDAP provides funding that allows law enforcement first responders to identify and select specialized equipment and technology that can help them protect the communities they serve.

Fourth, the act will ensure that we have a swift and coordinated response in the event of a major incident by establishing Law Enforcement Deployment Teams that can react immediately to major incidents throughout the country.

Fifth, the act will create an Information Sharing Resource Center to facilitate information sharing between Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, intelligence officials, and Federal agencies so that every stakeholder has the information necessary to protect our country from terrorist attacks.

Finally, the Act strengthens our ability to prevent and disrupt plans for attacks against America hatched overseas by establishing a Foreign Liaison Officers Against Terrorism, FLOAT, program. FLOAT will allow American state and local law enforcement officers to serve outside the U.S. as liaison officers--working closely with their foreign law enforcement counterparts to share information and gain a better understanding of how terrorists work abroad.

Each of these initiatives: the LETPP, CEDAP, the Law Enforcement Deployment Teams, the Information Sharing Resource Center, and FLOAT will be under the direction and control of the Assistant Secretary, who will report directly to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

I am honored to introduce this legislation with the support of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Sheriffs Association and other law enforcement groups throughout this country who toil daily to keep us safe from crime and terrorism.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

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