Following the recent tragedies at a Jewish Community Center outside of Kansas City and at Ft. Hood, Attorney General Eric Holder urged Congress Tuesday to approve $15 million in funding for active shooter training for law enforcement officers to ensure they have the tools they need to effectively respond to threats, protect themselves, and save innocent lives.
"In the face of this urgent and growing threat -- when the lives of innocent people are at stake -- those who stand on the front lines need our full and unwavering support," Holder said in a video message posted on the Justice Department's website. "This critical funding would help the Justice Department ensure that America's police officers have the tools and guidance they need to effectively respond to active shooter incidents whenever and wherever they arise."
"Over the last decade, the Justice Department and the FBI have helped provide cutting-edge active shooter training to 50,000 front-line officers. In the video message, Holder said continuing this training is critical since the patrol officers who arrive first on the scene are increasingly being relied on to respond directly to active shooters rather than wait for SWAT teams."
The complete text of the Attorney General's video message is below:
"Between 2000 and 2008, the United States experienced an average of approximately five active shooter incidents every year. Since 2009, this annual average has roughly tripled. Earlier this month, Fort Hood suffered the second mass shooting that community has experienced in just five years. And in a separate incident over the weekend, a gunman opened fire at a Jewish Community Center just outside of Kansas City.
"The Justice Department has concluded that federal hate crimes charges are appropriate in this case, and in the months ahead, we will do everything in our power to ensure that justice is served for every victim.
"But each of these tragic events is a heartbreaking reminder that mass shootings are all too common. And they have become increasingly deadly.
"As a nation, we must confront this alarming rise and all of its underlying causes -- honestly, factually, and without regard for political consequence. We must deal with these incidents whenever they happen -- but, just as importantly, we must prevent them whenever we can.
"Today's Department of Justice committed to doing just that. We're more determined than ever to prevent mass shootings. The FBI's Behavioral Threat Assessment Center, which supports state, local and campus safety stakeholders, has worked diligently to respond to a nearly 200 percent increase in requests for assistance in the last year, and to help detect and mitigate potential active shooter situations.
"But we must also be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to active shooter incidents if and when they do occur. And in today's world, the first response must often be led not by SWAT teams or specialized police units -- but by the very first patrol officers to arrive on the scene.
"That's why all law enforcement officers must have the best equipment and most up-to-date training to confront these situations -- to stop active shooters in their tracks, to protect themselves, and to save innocent lives.
"Over the last decade, the Justice Department and the FBI have helped provide cutting-edge active shooter training to 50,000 front-line officers, more than 7,000 on-scene commanders, and over 3,000 local, state, and federal agency heads. This vital work must continue -- but to provide training, we need adequate funding.
"Today, I am urging Congress to approve President Obama's request for $15 million for active shooter training and other officer safety initiatives. This critical funding would help the Justice Department ensure that America's police officers have the tools and guidance they need to effectively respond to active shooter incidents whenever and wherever they arise.
"Every day, America's federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials perform their duties with integrity, courage, and extraordinary valor. In the face of this urgent and growing threat -- when the lives of innocent people are at stake -- those who stand on the front lines need our full and unwavering support. The safety of the American people demands it. And the men, women, and children whose lives are impacted by active shooters every year deserve nothing less."