- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 11, 2016

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson emphasized across the board active-shooter training by local law enforcement as one of the best ways to limit damage in an attack by self-radicalized terrorists, noting the difficulty of predicting the next target.

“Active-shooter training works,” Mr. Johnson said Thursday as he answered questions following his State of Homeland Security address. “If you’re not doing active-shooter training, you need to be.”

The remarks on how to respond to an attack come as intelligence officials warned this week that the Islamic State terrorist group will likely attempt to launch a direct attack on the U.S. in 2016.

“The terrorist-inspired actor makes for a more complex homeland security challenge,” Mr. Johnson said. “As I see this threat evolve, I think our relationships and grants to state and local law enforcement are becoming more and more important.”

Mr. Johnson said more than $2 billion in homeland security assistance was provided to state and local law enforcement in 2015 for things like active-shooter training and communications and surveillance equipment.

One of those initiatives included an active-shooter drill held in the New York City subway system in November.

Mr. Johnson’s remarks came in a speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., in which he reflected on accomplishments by the Department of Homeland Security under his leadership and outlined goals the department will strive to meet during the remainder of his time in office.

He stressed that recent changes to security screening protocols are having a positive effect on the safety of air travel, noting that stepped-up security screenings at 15 overseas airports have stopped more than 10,700 travelers who did not pass pre-clearance checks from coming to the United States. He added that the department hopes to get pre-clearance screening capabilities up and running at another 10 international airports in nine countries.

As a result of new security protocols, the wait times for security screening at airports have increased, but Mr. Johnson said “we believe this is necessary for the public’s own safety.”

Efforts focused on counterterrorism also denied an additional 3,000 people entry into the United States in fiscal 2015 based on the tightening of entry restrictions, he said.

Mr. Johnson also highlighted efforts the U.S. has taken to more narrowly tailor its immigration policies to address threats to public safety and border security. He said since the administration changed policy, replacing the Secure Communities program with the Priority Enforcement Program in July, that 16 counties that were not cooperating with the federal government on illegal immigration issues have now come on board.

Stepped-up efforts are also having an impact on the recent surge of illegal border crossers from Central America that began late last year.

According to DHS data, 3,133 unaccompanied minors were caught at the border in January, which was down from 6,786 the month before. And the number of family members traveling together fell from nearly 9,000 in December to just 3,145 last month. Mr. Johnson said thus far the numbers for February appear to be showing the same “encouraging” trend.

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