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FWC officers assisting with disaster response efforts in Texas 
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FWC officers assisting with disaster response efforts in Texas 

FWC officers assisting with disaster response efforts in Texas 
Photo Credit: Governor's Press Office

FWC officers assisting with disaster response efforts in Texas 

Today, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers are actively assisting with disaster response efforts in the Houston area. Governor Scott directed the deployment of FWC officers and resources in response to Texas’ request for emergency assistance.  

Currently, 37 FWC officers and 21 boats are in route to Houston to support ongoing response efforts. More than 60 officers and nearly 20 boats are being staged and will deploy today.

This weekend, twenty-five FWC officers, 17 high water vehicles, two Mobile Command Centers, eight shallow draft vessels and four patrol boats arrived in Houston after being deployed Saturday night. 

 

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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • City leaders in Lakewood, South Sound residents and members of the media had warned that the Point Defiance Bypass route, on which numerous people were killed or injured when an Amtrak Cascades passenger train derailed Monday near Lacey, could lead to fatal accidents and traffic disruptions. >> Read more trending news Amtrak Cascades Train 501 derailed Monday morning during its inaugural run on the Point Defiance Bypass route. The train left the tracks on an Interstate 5 overpass in Pierce County, slamming into cars and throwing passengers and crew members. Authorities confirmed that multiple people were killed, but they declined to say how many by early Monday afternoon. The editorial board of The News Tribune in Tacoma questioned in 2013 whether the new line, which shaved about 10 minutes off the Seattle-to-Portland route, was worth the threat to public safety. >> Related: Here’s what the Amtrak engineer said in his call for help after the Washington derailment “A train accident on tracks near I-5 easily could create backups stretching miles in both directions,” the editorial board wrote. “Is making the train ride to Portland 10 minutes quicker worth the threat to public safety and all the disruption it will create for thousands of drivers? Is the state really that desperate for federal rail funds?” >> Related: Fatalities reported after train derails onto Interstate 5 in Washington The new high-speed route takes trains inland and runs parallel to Interstate 5 through Tacoma, Lakewood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Dupont, separating passenger trains from freight trains that continue to use a waterfront route. It’s the same route that Sound Transit uses for its Sounder commuter train, but that is not a high-speed train. The News Tribune was not alone in its fear of what could happen. >> Photos: Amtrak train derails in Washington The city of Lakewood sued Amtrak to stop the rerouting, and Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson and some residents in the area have long voiced their concerns about the danger. At a city meeting on Dec. 5, Anderson said he believed the trains were too close to traffic and pedestrians. >> Related: A history of some of Amtrak's deadliest derailments “Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens,” Anderson said at the city meeting. Anderson also told local media that it would be only a matter of time before the high-speed trains kill someone.
  • An Amtrak train derailed in Washington state Monday, killing at least six people and injuring  dozens of others, according to authorities. >> Read more trending news  Amtrak Cascades Train 501, carrying 78 passengers and five crew members, jumped the track near Tacoma in Pierce County, Washington, plunging off an overpass onto the I-5 freeway below, according to Amtrak officials. Amtrak has provided a phone number for people to call with questions about family or friends who may have been on the train: 800-523-9101. At least 70 people were taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center and at least 20 were transported to the Madigan Army Medical Emergency Center. The main phone number for St. Joseph’s is 253-426-4101. You can inquire about a loved one at this number by providing the name of the person. >> Related:  LIVE UPDATES: At least 70 sent to hospital, 6 dead after train derails on I-5 Madigan has two numbers listed for patient admissions: 253-968-3827 and 253-968-3829.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice released its review of how officers with the Orlando Police Department responded to the Pulse nightclub mass shooting. More than 100 people were injured and 49 people died at the nightclub June 12, 2016, when gunman Omar Mateen opened fire as the club was closing. Photos: Victims of Pulse nightclub Orlando Police Chief John Mina requested the independent review by the DOJ and Police Foundation to identify best practices and areas in which to improve regarding planning, training, polices, procedures and practices, the report said. The report found: The tactical response by the OPD was consistent with the department’s policies, procedures and training, as well as recognized practices.  The OPD successfully leveraged existing relationships with federal, state and local public safety agencies in their response to the Pulse nightclub terrorist attack.  OPD leadership prioritized the mental health of all OPD personnel following the response to the Pulse attack.  Pre-existing Orlando police-community relationships, fostered and sustained over time, enhanced the resilience of the community in the aftermath of the Pulse terrorist shooting.   Read: Pulse nightclub victims' detail terrifying moments of Orlando mass shooting Dispatchers had to mute their phones to compose themselves when victims, survivors and others called 911 for help, the report said. The report said the Police Department had a “laser-like” focus to stop the killings and save lives. The report said more training, including adjusting to a world with active shooters, was needed. Mina agreed but wouldn't say what changes in training were made. 'There is no policy or piece of papers that would have saved lives,' Mina said. 'We adjust training tactics, not only with first responders but for tactical teams, but we are not going to put that on a piece of paper.' Some of the SWAT team said in the report that the breach of the bathrooms when they tried to get access to Mateen was disorganized and that more training is needed for future joint response. Read: Orlando firefighter remembers treating Pulse attack's patient No. 1 Another issue found was that 300 law enforcement officers self-deployed without direction on where to go or what to do. The report found the staging areas were not secured and that victims went unchecked for explosives. Read the full report here.  The report does not discuss friendly fire; the FBI is investigating if friendly fire took place. Mina said at this time, there's no indication friendly fire took place. Report: teams like swat said response during incident was disorganized. Need to train more together in joint response— Shannon Butler (@SButlerWFTV) December 18, 2017   The @COPSOffice has released its review of the Pulse nightclub attack - calls it 'a valuable guide to #LawEnforcement or #FirstResponders seeking to prepare for similar mass casualty incidents.' OPD release: https://t.co/8vJPia1O7O Full report: https://t.co/V73UMs75HF pic.twitter.com/GMJIXMztPa — Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) December 18, 2017  
  • The United States Department of Justice today has released the results of a 'critical incident review' requested by Orlando Police Chief John Mina in response to the attack on the Pulse nightclub.    Chief Mina says the goal of the review is that it 'allows for open feedback in a constructive way and enables law enforcement officials to speak with total candor in an open forum.'    The independent federal review contains information on decision making from leadership and relationships, an in depth description of the timeline starting before the attack as well as the aftermath, and even includes observations and lessons learned from things like tactical response, emergency medical care, and post event victim welfare.    The review concludes by saying it 'honors the victims of the Pulse nightclub attack and the bravery of the Orlando law enforcement community and serves as a call to action for our nation's elected officials and law enforcement and public safety leaders. You can check out an interactive version of the critical incident review here.
  • A church in Ocoee is ensuring that children with autism will still be able to celebrate the holidays in way that will be safe and not overstimulating.   Ocoee Oaks United Methodist Church is partnering with Autism Law Enforcement Response Training(ALERT) to offer a traditional Christmas Eve candelight service, but with a slightly different approach to cater to the sensitivity of light and volume.    Rather than use candles, children will be offered glowsticks instead. In addition, 20 sensory kits donated by ALERT will be provided for use during the service.    The church says that space may be limited and they encourage anyone who wants to attend to register in advance for free tickets to the service.    You can register for the event here.