WASHINGTON, D.C. – At the request of U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, last week the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) held a hearing titled, “Frontline Response to Terrorism in America” in order to examine the local response to the recent terror attacks as well as explore how first responders across the country are preparing for such attacks in the future. The hearing also highlighted lessons learned and areas that need improvement when coordinating with federal agencies during emergencies.
“Like many of my colleagues, I have heard from my constituents about their very real fears of being attacked in their communities. These concerns are not unwarranted,” said Senator Baldwin during the hearing. “We must prepare for the unthinkable…My hope is that when we leave here today, we have specific actions the federal government can take to assist first responders in their tireless efforts to respond to emergency situations and keep Americans safe.”
During the hearing, Senator Baldwin highlighted the safety concerns expressed by Wisconsinites and Americans throughout the country as they relate to the recent terrorist attacks and explored ways that the federal government can better assist local first responders in today’s threat environment. Senator Baldwin questioned the witnesses in order to understand the challenges that local jurisdictions face in preparing for terrorists attacks, particularly attacks against soft targets. Senator Baldwin also highlighted security concerns related to the safety of trains transporting hazardous materials.
Senator Baldwin also referenced the recently planned mass shooting at a Masonic temple in Milwaukee that was thwarted by law enforcement, “We were fortunate in this case, as we have been in others, in preventing the attack. However, there will undoubtedly be more attempts to disrupt our way of life. We must remain vigilant and ensure that our first responders have what they need to prevent attacks and respond to them if they do occur.”
In a December letter to the HSGAC Chairman, Senator Baldwin and North Dakota Senator Heidi
Heitkamp emphasized the importance of examining the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) work with first responders, state and local law enforcement, individuals and communities to prepare for coordinated terrorist attacks.
The hearing featured testimony from Everest, Wisconsin Chief of Police Wally Sparks, who discussed the importance of coordinated training and information sharing with federal, state and local first responders. The committee also heard from New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and others.