In her Friday, March 26 visit to Monroe Community College, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) endorsed community colleges as a logical provider of homeland security training and called MCC’s public safety training operation “a model for community cooperation.”
Clinton toured MCC’s Public Safety Training Center, where the college trains police, fire and emergency medical professionals, and learned from MCC leaders how community colleges across the country are working together to provide high-quality and cost-efficient homeland security training.
“Most places have a community college,” Clinton said at a press conference. “The institution, the infrastructure is already in place and most community colleges perform the training for law enforcement, criminal justice, firefighting already. Yet, when it comes to figuring out how to most efficiently prepare our homeland security forces, there aren’t many places that are looking first and foremost to their community colleges. And I think that’s a mistake.”
“After Sept. 11, 2001, our political leaders responded and rapidly put into place the Department of Homeland Security and all its attendant programs in an attempt to ensure our safety,” said MCC’s President R. Thomas Flynn. “Speed was paramount and we cannot expect those early initiatives to be perfect. One of the early oversights by the public policy makers was the strength of the existing resources in our community college system. We’re trying to rectify that oversight.”
The American Association of Community Colleges has established a 21-member Ad Hoc Task Force on Homeland Security to define a long-range strategy for the nation’s 1,173 two-year colleges. MCC’s Flynn is a member of that task force. MCC’s Col. John Perrone, Jr., along with Gulf Coast Community College’s Pam Whitelock, is co-leading “Prepare America,” a League for Innovation in the Community College initiative to build and coordinate a consortium of community colleges offering homeland security and public safety training.
With more than 30 years experience in training first-responders, MCC launched its Homeland Security Management Institute (HSMI) in December 2003. MCC’s Perrone directs the institute which is a regional source for homeland security training of first-responders, elected officials, citizens and professionals whose jobs may place them in a leadership or response role in a homeland security emergency.
During her visit, Clinton also discussed the need to make sure local areas get an adequate level of federal funding to fulfill their homeland security responsibilities. “I do not believe that our current method of doling out homeland security dollars is working. Local communities aren’t getting the money they need quickly enough, nor is the funding level high enough,” Clinton said.
Earlier this year, the senator introduced the Domestic Defense Fund Act of 2004, which would deliver homeland security dollars directly to local communities and first responders. The act would also give local leaders the discretion to assess their own needs and spend the money accordingly.
Clinton pointed to MCC’s operation as a model for the country in how to provide public safety and homeland security training via intergovernmental partnerships. MCC’s Public Safety Training Center is a cooperative venture with the County of Monroe and the City of Rochester.
“This is a unique institution that can teach us a lot about how best to coordinate and deliver law enforcement and homeland security training to the broad range of institutions and individuals who are now playing a role,” she said.
(Senator Clinton’s complete remarks can be viewed on MCC’s Web site, https://www.monroecc.edu. From MCC's home page, click on "Quick Links" and choose "Video Server," then "Video Content" (blue button). Scroll down to "Pre-recorded Programming" and look under "MCC in the News." Click on "Senator Clinton Visits the Homeland Security Management Institute.")