Sen. John Cornyn in Austin pushing for police protection

John Cornyn (AP File Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
John Cornyn (AP File Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn is in Austin Friday talking about protecting police officers. When the worst crimes happen in our community, it’s critical first responders are trained and on the same page.

A new law, signed by President Barack Obama last month, provides additional grant dollars needed to prepare police. Sen. Cornyn wrote the bill. The money comes from the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grant. Police departments can draw from the grant’s $187 million to train officers, medics and firefighters.

Soon new money will be available after President Obama signed a bill co-authored by two Texas lawmakers.

Shift commander Kevin Krienke patrols Williamson County as part of the County’s Emergency Medical Services.

“We respond to all high acuity calls to include CPRs, major wrecks, obviously active shooter events, anything that requires more than one ambulance,” he said.

At any time he could be called to another SWAT situation or worse. “It can happen anytime, anywhere and we just want to be ready that day,” said Krienke.

Local leaders stress its importance, but with 16 different EMS and Fire agencies in Williamson County training can run thousands of dollars per day. That adds up.

“Previously they’d been shut out of this funding and now it’s available to them,” said Sen. Cornyn, who authored the bill with Congressman John Carter, who represents Williamson County.

He spread the word in Austin at the Texas Fraternal Order of Police Conference and stressed the importance of Police, Fire, and EMS having the same training and being on the same page when responding to active shooters.

“Better communication, cooperation. It’s not just in this sort of scenario but across the board,” said Sen. Cornyn.

“To get everyone in the county trained it would take months to years to do it and lots of money,” Krienke said. It totals to $187 million nationwide and Commander Krienke will apply for it.

Grant money is also available for departments to implement community policing policies and more equipment to combat violent crimes.

Police officers say a 911 call for an active shooter is one of the most deadly and unpredictable situations they face. Training before a shooter opens fire is critical.

“Law enforcement is focused on stopping the shooter,” Cornyn said. “But, obviously, people are bleeding and dying.”

Many police departments rely on Texas State University’s ALERRT program to help them train their officers. The organization specializes in active shooter simulations.

On July 31, Austin police thought they had an active shooter on their hands. Detectives said a 24-year-old man opened fire in the busy Sixth Street entertainment district in downtown. One woman died in the gunfire and three other people were injured. It was later determined not be an active shooter situation.

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