Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Adopting national security methods locally

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TWC News: Adopting national security methods locally
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The attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 awoke a newfound need for security in our country.

Now, 10 years later and about 1,700 miles away from New York City, those attacks continue to affect the ways we guard and police our communities here in Texas.

Dr. Bob Harkins is no stranger to those effects. He serves as Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Security at the University of Texas and has two sons currently enlisted in the United States Army.

“Last year was the first time we have had both our boys home for Christmas since 9/11," Dr. Harkins said.

A military veteran himself, Harkins now has the task of protecting nearly 50,000 students on U.T.’s campus.

New technology and security methods have already been tested and analyzed.

"If you go back to 2001, not a lot of people were texting,” Dr. Harkins said. “If you go back to the (2010) shooting incident on campus, within 7 minutes we had sent out text messages to 54,000 subscribers."

A report issued after the shooting analyzed how the campus handled the crisis. It accredits much of the success of the response to the lessons learned after 9/11.

The campus now has a universal radio system in place and committees meet regularly to discuss security issues and how to react potential threats.

"I think it's the intelligence, getting that intelligence in advance is out best weapon to disrupt," Republican Texas Representative Michael McCaul said."The threat is still out there. When people ask me are we safer today than 9/11, my answer is ‘Yes, but not completely.’"

Congressman McCaul believes the country’s increased vigilance and counter-terrorism measures regularly spoil terror plots against the nation.

“Understand that the threat is very real, it's not going to go away. It's very easy to become complacent," Dr. Harkins said.

Complacency: one more thing to guard against as their mission continues to evolve.

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