Gov. Rick Scott Wants $6 Million For Counterterrorism
On Wednesday Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced a plan to ask Legislature for more funds to fight terrorism.
Scott asked for $5.8 million to hire 46 Florida Department of Law Enforcement employees dedicated to counterterrorism efforts.
The plan was sparked by last year’s attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that left 49 dead. Scott wants to created seven FDLE counterterrorism squads that’ll positioned in different regions across the state.
“Terror is a threat to our state and nation and we need specialists that are solely dedicated to identifying these terrorists and stopping them before they attack,” Scott wrote in a statement released by his office, obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat.
Scott’s announcement came at the FDLE field office in Orlando, which is less than three miles from the nightclub where the worst mass shooting in U.S. history took place. Alongside Scott was FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen, who recommended new counterterrorism squads in September during a Florida Cabinet meeting.
In Swearingen’s recommendation there would be a $4.8 million salary for 37 agents, eight senior analysts and a program director. In addition he asked for $1 million in one-time funding to purchase equipment, safety gear and vehicles for the task.
There are currently three joint offices in the FDLE’s system, known as “fusion centers,” in Tallahassee, Orlando and Miami and are funded through federal grants. The FDLE also temporarily assigns agents to Florida-based FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force squads, but doesn’t have the manpower to make permanent assignments to federal counterterrorism efforts.
“We are critically understaffed in this area,” Swearingen said during the September Cabinet meeting, per the Tallahassee Democrat. “Nor do we have all the tools we need.”
Besides the request for more FDLE agents, Scott said he will ask for $11.7 million to provide five percent raises for all state law enforcement officers.