Houston officials look to prevent attacks like Florida airport shooting

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Security stepped up at local airports after Fort Lauderdale shooting, Steven Romo reports.

While the motive for the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting is still unclear, authorities in Houston want the public to know they're coordinating with state and federal authorities to prevent similar attacks.

George Buenik, executive assistant police chief for HPD, said after they were alerted to the Fort Lauderdale shooting they immediately sent more officers to local airports.

"There's always the possibility of a copycat and we keep an eye on that but that's also why we increase our visibility," Buenik said. "We brought in some bomb dogs to search the area and mill around to check out the different people along the common areas."

Dennis Storemski, director of the Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security said much of his agency's attention is focused on the dangers of a homegrown attacker. His office works to coordinate local government and federal authorities to prevent and respond to attacks and catastrophic events.

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"Right now, the primary threat facing the country at this day and time is really homegrown violent extremists. We were initially planning for international terrorists threats," he said.

He said protecting soft targets-- places that allow open access to members of the public-- is a daunting task.

"Well, somethings you just can't prevent like the shooting that occurred today. It's very hard to prevent an active shooter. One single individual who is willing to risk his life," Storemski said. "There's not much you can do to prevent that. You can be vigilant. You have to be prepared to respond and try to recover from that type of incident."

Storemski said the upcoming Super Bowl in Houston will create a new set of security challenges but said federal authorities are working with local agencies to bolster protections for the event.

While the Fort Lauderdale shooter's motives aren't yet clear, local leaders said they're working overtime with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prepare for risks.
They're putting officers in more places, hoping greater visibility will discourage attacks.

"We want people in Houston to feel safe when they're traveling," Buenik said.
Related Topics:
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