After El Paso Shooting, Gov. Abbott Forms Texas Domestic Terrorism Task Force

August 14, 2019 Updated: August 14, 2019

In the wake of El Paso shooting, Governor Greg Abbott formed a Domestic Terrorism Task Force to combat hateful acts and terrorism in Texas on Aug. 14.

“Our top priority is to keep Texans safe in their communities,” said Governor Abbott in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The shooting outside a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas killed 22 people and injured 24 others on Aug. 3. The dead included 13 Americans, eight Mexicans, and one German.

The task force was created under Article 4, Sections 1, 7, and 10 of the Texas Constitution and will hold its first roundtable meeting on Aug. 30, according to a press release by the Office of the Texas Governor.

“The group of experts will analyze and provide advice on strategies to maximize law enforcement’s ability to protect against acts of domestic terrorism,” said the press release.

Abbott also ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to work to combat domestic terrorism in Texas. Immediate actions planned for this include carrying out state intelligence assessment on the threat of domestic terrorism inside Texas.

The task force will create a Domestic Terrorism Section inside the Texas Fusion Center to “proactively seek, assess and monitor domestic terrorism and other mass casualty threats.”

It will also coordinate with the designated regional fusion centers in Texas to enhance monitoring and detection of threats.

The task force will create Domestic Terrorism Teams that will provide direct support to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF). Each Domestic Terrorism team will consist of DPS special agents. The domestic terrorism teams will help provide JTTE with an increased number of Special Agents.

“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,” said the press release.

“Part of that mission is to combat domestic terrorism and root out the extremist ideologies that fuel hatred and violence in our state. This task force brings together leaders with the expertise Texas needs to develop effective strategies and combat domestic terrorism.

“Texas is stronger when we come together in pursuit of a shared goal, and today’s actions are vital steps in our ongoing fight against extremism and violence. We stand united against those who wish to bring harm to our state, and together we will build a safer future for every Texan,” said Governor Abbott.

The task force consists of 18 members that include, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, and Greg Allen, El Paso Police Chief.

Objectives of the Task Force

The main objective of the task force is to analyze current and emerging threats, develop strategies that government agencies can take to prevent such threats, and to respond to these threats.

A priority will be developing ways to enhance interagency cooperation and collaboration between local, state, and federal agencies.

The objectives provided in the press release will focus on, “Developing model tools, policies, and protocols to assist in fighting domestic terrorism. Providing advice and recommendations regarding state homeland security strategic planning, and relevant legislative recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature.”

Follow Venus on Twitter: @venusupadhayaya