Washington D.C. — U.S. Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Reps. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and John J. Duncan, Jr., (R-Tenn.) have announced two federal grants totaling over $5 million for two University of Tennessee partnership programs.
The Department of Homeland Security will supply the funding to support the development and delivery of two courses, one benefiting public safety officials in the event of a mass transit emergency and the other assisting state and local leaders in identifying vulnerabilities within the agricultural sector.
“Our best defense against homeland security threats is ensuring local and state leaders are prepared to anticipate and manage a crisis,” Frist said. “These courses will help ensure our communities can respond swiftly and aggressively to a potential public disaster. I’m proud that UT has been selected to help administer these crucial public safety programs that will enable state and local leaders to identify and assess potential threats facing our transit infrastructure and agriculture industry.”
“This is more evidence that the University of Tennessee is on the cutting edge of research that is critical to our nation and homeland security,” Alexander said. “I applaud the hard work by the researchers at the Law Enforcement Innovation Center and the College of Veterinary Medicine. These grants will produce valuable programs to advance security in the agricultural and transit sectors of society. The fact that UT will lead these efforts will ensure a continued and vital role for the University and these faculty.”
“Since the attacks of 9/11, the Tennessee Valley and its many institutions have been preparing to assist our great nation in research, training and technology development to secure our homeland and the free world during these challenging times. The grant announcements by DHS to the University of Tennessee are proof positive that we have a key role to play and that our flagship University is on the cutting edge in Homeland Security research and development. As a member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I am grateful to the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security for recognizing excellence in this important area,” Wamp said.
“UT continues to build upon its reputation as one of our nation-s leading research institutions, and I am pleased the University will utilize its homeland security expertise to help state and local officials improve their emergency preparedness,” Duncan said. “Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of our economy, and as a senior member of the House Transportation Committee, I have spoken for years about the importance of safety and security to our country’s transit infrastructure. These grants will play an important role in making countless communities more secure.”
“We think our selection by the Department of Homeland Security for these two important initiatives further affirms the University of Tennessee’s rapidly growing reputation as a national leader in security and training capabilities. Our law enforcement training, veterinary medicine and agricultural research and instruction programs are truly unique and help set us apart,” said UT President John Petersen.
“We are especially grateful to Senate Majority Leader Frist, Senator Alexander, Congressman Duncan and Congressman Wamp for the support that helps keep UT at the forefront in addressing these important national issues,” Petersen said.
UT’s Law Enforcement Innovation Center will collaborate with Louisiana State University and Scientific Applications International Corporation to complete the mass transit program using a $3 million grant. Entitled “Transit Terrorist Tools and Tactics,” the course will establish a three-day seminar for emergency response personnel concerning the detection of and proper response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive threats.
“Our partnerships with LSU, SAIC, and the Institute of Agriculture will help to develop cutting edge training programs for the first responders of our nation,” Mike Sullivan, LEIC director said.
Three academic institutions and several state agencies will partner with the University to develop the agriculture training program utilizing a $2 million grant. The course will help those attending assess agricultural sites, identify possible vulnerabilities, and formulate preventative measures that reduce the threat of a terrorist attack against the food supply.