Unfortunately, public areas and places where crowds gather have become targets for vehicular attacks around the world, and recently in the U.S. In addition to purposeful attacks, accidents involving vehicles and buildings or crowded events injure thousands and kill hundreds of Americans every year. The strategic placement of security barriers and other systems in key locations is critical to protecting the public but requires significant security and engineering expertise to deploy effectively. Leadership and assistance from the federal government are critical as community leaders responsible for public safety seek to strengthen these protections.
H.R. 4227, the Vehicular Terrorism Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill supported by the Security Industry Association (SIA) and one of its top legislative priorities in 2018, was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 31, 2018. Authored by Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), the bill directs the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to refocus efforts on protecting against the threat from hostile vehicle attacks in public spaces.
According to Rep. Latta’s office, “The legislation requires DHS to assess current actions at the department to support emergency response providers and the private sector to prevent, mitigate, and respond to the threat of vehicular terrorism. The bill then requires DHS to submit a strategy to Congress that includes an examination of the current threat of vehicular terrorism, methods to improve information sharing activities with the private sector, and training activities that the department can undertake. The strategy would also include recommendations from DHS on what can be done to aid department efforts to prevent vehicular terrorism.”
SIA has worked to raise awareness of this important issue among policymakers, hosting a May 2018 briefing in Washington. D.C., attended by members of Congress, congressional staff, federal agency personnel, state and local government leaders, project designers and other stakeholders. The briefing focused on physical security measures that protect against hostile vehicle attacks and how policies, standards and funding can be coordinated to better protect public spaces.
As threats from vehicular attacks grow, SIA applauds enactment of H.R. 4227 and will continue to raise awareness and support public- and private-sector efforts to increase sensible and effective protection against these threats, which is essential to ensuring safe and secure public spaces.