National Fusion Center Association again questions why the federal program that trains local police how to fight terrorism is ending, especially after episodes like the violence in Charlottesville.
As Charlottesville, Va., struggles to recover from last weekend’s deadly violence and authorities warn of increased threats from domestic extremists, the Justice Department is shutting down a program that trains officers on combating terrorism. The State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) program, which has served more than 142,000 law enforcement officers, has run out of funding. Its last day is Sept. 30, the Kansas City Star reports. “It makes absolutely no sense,” said Mike Sena of the National Fusion Center Association, which represents a network of 79 centers designed to help law enforcement agencies collect and share terrorism-related information. “Eliminating programs that are critical to preparing our people in the field to identify threats before they manifest and cause harm to our public is an egregious error.” (SLATT’s impending demise was described last month in The Crime Report.)
Sena and other experts question the effectiveness of a domestic terrorism task force the Justice Department revived in 2014. At a time of heightened concerns about violence, they say, they’ve heard nothing about the task force or its efforts, nor have they been asked to participate. The Justice Department did not respond to repeated questions for comment about why the anti-terrorism training program was being eliminated or whether the task force was still active. and if so, what it has accomplished. An assessment last year by the Rand Corp. said there was a huge demand for the training. “The SLATT Program receives more requests for training than it can fulfill,” the study said, adding that “is not uncommon to have a backlog of 120 requests for SLATT training.”