When deadly tornadoes ripped across Alabama in April, killing hundreds and leaving communities in ruins, our first responders - volunteer firefighters, police and medical personnel -- sprang into action.
In our rural communities, these folks serve as our first line of defense by keeping us safe. Like our soldiers in uniform, we are all deeply indebted to their service and sacrifice. Our communities devastated by the storms are recovering as a result of their efforts.
East Alabama's first responders are our front line in efforts to help secure our homeland. But that's not the whole story of what homeland security means to Alabama.
Our state is becoming an important leader in helping form and carry out security efforts. For example, folks may know that located in Calhoun County is the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), the only weapons of mass destruction (WMD) training facility that provides hands-on training to civilian emergency responders. Especially in this time of threat to our nation, the CDP plays a vital role in our preparedness.
The CDP is also home to the Noble Training Facility. According to the CDP, it's "the only hospital facility in the United States dedicated to training hospital and healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response."
These facilities are impressive, but they are not the only contribution our state is making to homeland security. Our universities play a vital role. Auburn University and Jacksonville State University offer programs beneficial to first responders and those with an interest in a career in homeland security.
Auburn University also trains explosive detection canines at a facility in Anniston used by the U.S. military, DHS and the U.S. Capitol Police.
Near Birmingham, the U.S. Secret Service runs the National Computer Forensics Institute. This facility trains local and state law enforcement, district attorneys and judges how to solve crimes committed with computers and on the internet. This advanced crime fighting is known as cybersecurity.
At the beginning of this year, I was selected as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over TSA. Most folks reading this, like I am, have gotten fed up with TSA because of examples of outrageous experiences and reports about the agency's airport screeners. I, in that regard, believe TSA is in dire need of change and am working toward that end.
But TSA does more than airport security. They also secure everything from trucking, to freight rail, to pipelines -- all of which are important to Alabama's economy. As Chairman, I am working to make sure TSA does not unnecessarily slow or hurt the free flow of commerce through burdensome and job-threatening regulations on the commercial transportation sector.
We must continue to keep our homeland safe, and Alabama is growing in its influence and impact in that effort.
Contact me at www.mike-rogers.house.gov, become a fan on Facebook at Congressman Mike D. Rogers, follow me on Twitter at RepMikeRogersAL and subscribe to my YouTube page at MikeRogersAL03.