Governor Abbott forms domestic terrorism task force following El Paso mass shooting

AUSTIN, Tx. (KOSA) Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the creation of a task force on Wednesday that aims to fight domestic terrorism.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after a 21-year-old white gunman opened fire in an El Paso Walmart, killing 22 people and injuring dozens of others.

“We as leaders are going to step up and do something to solve what happened here,” Governor Abbott said several days after the mass shooting. Then on Wednesday, at the memorial service for the victims, the governor made good on his promise.

“As a state, we’ve already begun to act to keep Texas safe and to dismantle the purveyors of hate and racism in this state and in this county. Today, I invoke my authority as Governor to form a domestic violence terrorism task force to combat hate filled extremism and violence in the state of Texas,” he said.

The task force is a group of experts that will analyze information to maximize law enforcement’s ability to protect against domestic terrorism.

The governor directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to take action to combat all forms of domestic terrorism in Texas, including the following list posted on the Texas governor’s website.

•Conducting a state intelligence assessment on the domestic terrorism threat in Texas.
•Establishing a Domestic Terrorism Section within the Texas Fusion Center to proactively seek, assess and monitor domestic terrorism and other mass casualty threats.
•Coordinating with the designated regional fusion centers in Texas to increase the detection and monitoring of domestic terrorism and other mass casualty threats.
•Establishing Domestic Terrorism Teams comprised of DPS Special Agents to provide immediate direct support to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF), and increase the number of Special Agents assigned to the JTTFs to conduct domestic counterterrorism investigations.
•Increasing the number of DPS Special Agents and Analysts in the Texas Anti-Gang Centers conducting investigations on criminal gangs affiliated with Neo Nazi and White Nationalist groups and networks espousing terrorist attacks.

The first roundtable meeting kicks off on August 30th. The task force will meet quarterly, or whenever the governor convenes them.

The domestic terrorism task force consists of Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, Colonel Steve McCraw with the Department of Public Safety, Chief W. Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Military Department Major General Tracy Norris, Texas Department of Information Resources Executive Director Amanda Crawford, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith, Members of the United States Customs and Border Patrol, Members of the United States Secret Service, United States Attorney- Western District of Texas John Bash, Department of Homeland Security Jeff Murray, Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, District Attorney for Lubbock County K. Sunshine Stanek, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen, Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra, Collin County Sheriff's Office North Texas Fusion Center Captain Anthony Carter.

Specific objectives of the task force will analyze the following, according to the Governor’s website.

•Analyze current and emerging threats in Texas, and develop strategies that government entities can take to prevent and respond to such threats.
•Study ways to increase interagency cooperation and collaboration between local, state, and federal agencies.
•Develop model tools, policies, and protocols to assist in fighting domestic terrorism.
•Provide advice and recommendations regarding state homeland security strategic planning, and relevant legislative recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature.

As for immediate relief to the El Paso community, the governor previously announced that $5 million will be given in state funding to the area.