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Florida Gov. Scott wants to hire counterterrorism agents

January 4, 2017 GMT

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to spend nearly $6 million to boost the number of state agents dedicated to counterterrorism efforts.

Sparked by last year’s attack on the Pulse nightclub that left 49 dead, Scott will ask legislators to include enough money in the annual budget to hire agents who will be stationed in seven regions across the state.

“Terror is a threat to our state and nation, and we need specialists that are solely dedicated to identifying these terrorists and stopping them before they attack,” he said during a media event in Orlando Wednesday.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen last fall first recommended hiring 46 additional agents. Legislators will consider the request during their annual session that starts in March.

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Scott said he is backing the request because the state needs “specialists that are solely dedicated to identifying these terrorists and stopping them.”

During the June rampage, shooter Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in telephone conversations with a 911 operator and a police negotiator.

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The funding and new counterterrorism positions are “a critical investment in our state’s counterterrorism operations that will work to ensure that our law enforcement officers have the resources they need to curb this senseless violence,” he said. “We live in a very difficult time, but we are going to do everything that we can to keep everybody safe.”