Houston Joint Terrorism Task Force addresses security threats, challenges for area

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Local and federal officials met in Houston to discuss preparedness for terror threats. Jeff Ehling reports. (KTRK)

The Houston Joint Terrorism Task Force, including agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal and local law enforcement, met with the press and U.S. Senator John Cornyn today to discuss security across the Houston area.

Challenges facing the Houston region, including those surrounding the Port of Houston and Super Bowl 51, were discussed.

ABC13 reporter Jeff Ehling noted this morning that this was basically an opportunity for Cornyn to sit down with local officials to find out what they are doing and if they need any help from Washington.

The senator met with County Judge Ed Emmitt, Sheriff Ron Hickman as well as members of the local FBI terrorism task force.

The officials noted Texas has the largest Muslim population of any state in the nation.

They added that threats have changed a lot since the last time Houston hosted a Super Bowl, noting that homegrown terror suspects are a huge concern today.

Part of the challenge of keeping everyone safe is to reach out the local Muslim community and make sure things are reported to large enforcement.

Local officials say they are doing that, and the senator saying it's an important effort because of the potential terror targets in Houston. He added that cooperation with local, state and federal agencies is needed to combat the threats.

Cornyn said, "I'm very proud what Harris County has done working with the city and state and federal partners to try and deal with both the threat of terrorist attacks as well as hurricanes and natural disasters and things of that nature."

As for the Super Bowl, local officials say there is a team at Super Bowl 50 monitoring the security plan out there and will have a report on what needs to be changed in Houston once that team gets back.
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