Ohio law enforcement react to NYC terrorist attack

Local law enforcement says it was notified within minutes of the terrorist attack this week in New York City. (WSYX/WTTE)

Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said within an hour of the New York attack law enforcement agencies across the country were notified. Agencies use this and other attacks as “learning lessons” on how they can fight terrorism at home.

“We’re constantly evolving and we’re constantly training,” said Chief Jim Gilbert with the Franklin County Sheriff Patrol Bureau.

They have to prepare for the worst case scenario, like a terrorist attack. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office told us it can easily happen here anytime, anywhere.

“We in law enforcement take these matters very serious and it’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when it’s going to occur here in Ohio, here in Columbus, here in Franklin County,” stated Chief Gilbert. “The public needs to be aware of that. I’m not asking citizens to be walking around in a paranoid state all the time but the reality is this is what we’re dealing with in today’s society this is becoming the norm and you have to prepare yourself mentally physically and emotionally to be able to respond to survive an incident.”

A terrorist act happened almost a year ago today in Ohio. Authorities said a Somali-born OSU student plowed his car into a crowd of students then attacked people with a butcher knife. Eleven people were hurt before he was shot and killed by campus police.

“There’s a lot of tactics and a lot things that we deploy in law enforcement that we don’t discuss openly in the public and that’s for several reasons,” said Chief Gilbert.

What makes protecting people from terrorist attacks even harder: dealing with large crowds, like at Ohio State football games.

Chief Jim Gilbert—Franklin County Sheriff Patrol Bureau

“We are mentally and emotionally preparing our personnel to respond,” said Chief Gilbert.

Former FBI agent Harry Trombitas said these attacks won’t ever go away and people can’t lose of sight that.

“We’re the greatest nation in the world and so we’re the big target. So I see terrorism incidents continuing to happen here not only in major cities but in smaller cities,” said the former FBI agent.

Trombitas said the biggest problem law enforcement has is people not coming forward. He says no matter how small they think a tip might be, it could save a lot of lives, if they speak up.

“That’s probably the weak link we have in law enforcement is trying to get people to come forward when they know something,” said Trombitas.

For the past 3 decades, Trombitas worked for the FBI and he said a lot has changed. We’re in a better place now, in terms of fighting crime but law enforcement still needs the public’s help, especially if it can help stop a terrorist plot.

“We’re in an age now where things develop very quickly. We don’t have the luxury of people sitting on information they gotta come forward immediately,” he stated.

Chief Gilbert said the training never stops and when large crowds are involved security is stepped up because as many of us know anything can happen.

“Unfortunately this is how things are going to be and we have to do all that we can to prepare and be ready to respond if in fact an attack happens here,” said Chief Gilbert.

The local Homeland Security did not want to comment on camera regarding the recent New York attacks but released this statement, “The Columbus Division of Police has an active Homeland Security Section and an ongoing outreach program to houses of worship, local business, and community leaders. The Homeland Security Section of CPD is embedded with the State’s Fusion Center and has officers assigned to assist the local FBI. We have a robust relationship with local, state, and federal law enforcement and all first responders to combat terrorism but we know we cannot complete our mission alone, we need the public to assist us. The event in NYC is a reminder to all of us to remain vigilant and not become complacent with reports of terrorist acts. Anyone with information concerning terrorism is encouraged to call CPD at 614-645-5401 or call Ohio Homeland Security at 1-877-OHS-INTEL(877-647-4683).”

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