UT’s Homeland Security Center to Focus on Transit Safety

KNOXVILLE — A string of terrorist attacks on mass transit facilities worldwide — from the recent thwarted attack on New York’s tunnels to this month’s bombing of a commuter train in India — have prompted U.S. officials to step up prevention and response training, and the University of Tennessee has been tapped to help.

Using a $3 million grant awarded under the 2005 Competitive Training Grant Program from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Grants and Training, UT’s Center for Homeland Security Training is developing a curriculum that will be taken on the road to train transit staff, response teams and law enforcement officers nationwide about potential terrorist attacks on transit systems.

“UT has an opportunity to provide cities and regional law enforcement personnel, multi-agency responders and others responsible for securing public transportation infrastructure targets with the knowledge, skills and abilities to detect, deter, prevent, mitigate and respond to the consequences of a terrorist attack,” said Program Director Romeo Morrisey.

The Center for Homeland Security Training is a division of UT’s Law Enforcement Innovation Center (LEIC).

Created in 2004, the Center for Homeland Security Training has helped train law enforcement officers and other officials in Tennessee with detecting, deterring, preventing and responding to acts of terrorism.

The grant allows the training to go national with a focus on mass transit.

UT’s Center for Homeland Security will train police, traffic security officers, firefighters, transit staff and emergency medical service providers — all considered first responders — how to deal with terrorist attacks and other incidents involving mass transit.

UT officials recently met with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to review the curriculum. Pilot classes could begin as early as this fall.

“We actually do the training in the venues and train them on their own equipment,” Morrisey said.

UT is partnering with Louisiana State University and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) to develop the curriculum.


Contacts:

Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu
Queena Jones, (865) 974-1533, queena.jones@tennessee.edu
Romeo Morrisey, (865) 215-1357, romeo@tennessee.edu
Susan Frant, (865) 215-1369, susan.frant@tennessee.edu