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Ortt unveils priorities to better protect military, ROTC members

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Wed, Jul 20th 2016 02:15 pm

Calls on Assembly to act on bill recently passed in Senate

Senate-approved bill would implement better safety measures and arm soldiers at National Guard recruiting centers and ROTC units in the event of a terrorist attack

Joined by military veterans and local leaders in front of the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Tonawanda, New York State Sen. Rob Ortt (R-C-I-North Tonawanda) recently unveiled another part of his "Shake up the Status Quo" legislative plan. His plan, comprised of his top legislative priorities, includes supporting and defending service men and women.

Ortt's legislation (S6021C), which passed in the Senate last month, establishes policies to improve the security and protection of National Guard recruiting centers and ROTC units across the state. The bill was first introduced last July, one week after a gunman shot and killed five service members at a military recruitment station and naval training center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The legislation currently sits in the Assembly after that house did not take it up for a vote this legislative session.

"This measure is, unfortunately, a reflection of the society we live in with imminent threats to our nation and communities becoming more and more prevalent," Ortt said. "Unarmed soldiers, such as members of the National Guard and ROTC, are targets on domestic soil and need stronger defense policies in place to safeguard them as they protect us. This bill provides these brave individuals with the tools they need in order to keep them safe from active shooter situations or domestic acts of terrorism. It's critical that the Assembly acts on this bill to prevent future tragedies."

Cpt. Roger L. Woodworth, retired Army National Guard member and U.S. Army combat veteran, said, "As a combat veteran and former member of the National Guard, I am very familiar with the fact that unarmed soldiers are targets on domestic soil. I applaud Sen. Ortt for introducing this bill and getting it pushed through the Senate. I believe the legislation will better protect National Guard and ROTC members against threats of violence and truly help to save lives."

Veterans One-stop Center chairman and U.S. Air Force veteran Col. John Higgins said, "Sen. Ortt's bill will help to put an end to the countless tragedies on domestic soil. I thank Sen. Ortt for recognizing that part of the solution is improving security systems at the centers and allowing our unarmed service members to defend themselves."

Niagara County Veterans Service Agency Director Nina Cabrera said, "It's imperative that we always strive to strengthen our national defense efforts. Sen. Ortt's bill is a big step in the right direction. We commend Sen. Ortt for his efforts and dedication to protecting us and our brave military men and women at the National Guard and ROTC centers."

Currently, military recruitment center employees are unarmed. Ortt's bill would change that, directing the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs to make necessary changes to National Guard recruiting centers and ROTC units. He said the changes would better protect and defend employees, recruits, visitors and other individuals against any acts of violence or terrorism. The division would then issue a yearly report on the progress of improvements being made.

The division would implement the following changes:

•Provide a sidearm, or issue permits to carry a concealed firearm, to full-time National Guard and ROTC personnel employed at recruiting centers or ROTC sites;

•Improve and strengthen building security by installing metal detectors, bulletproof glass, video surveillance equipment and barricades to limit vehicle access at military sites;

•Relocate recruiting or training centers to armories or other secure locations; and

•Implement any additional measures deemed necessary by the DMNA to protect employees, recruits, visitors and any other individuals at New York National Guard recruiting centers and ROTC units.

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