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Scott points to support for counterterrorism money

Gov. Rick Scott discusses the Affordable Health Care Act at the University of North Florida.
Gov. Rick Scott discusses the Affordable Health Care Act at the University of North Florida.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport might have boosted Gov. Rick Scott's recent call for lawmakers to fund state counterterrorism efforts.

But even before the tragedy, Scott said he hadn't heard criticism of the $5.8 million proposal to bulk up the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

"I've not heard any suggestion we shouldn't do it," Scott said Monday before appearing at the Florida Police Chiefs Association Mid-Winter Conference at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.

Scott's appearance at the conference came hours after a 17-year veteran of the Orlando Police Department was killed and an Orange County Sheriff's deputy died in a crash tied to the ensuing manhunt.

When he announced the counterterrorism proposal last week in Orlando, Scott used as a backdrop the June massacre at the Pulse nightclub in which 49 people were killed by an ISIS-inspired St. Lucie County resident.

Scott also pitched the counterterrorism proposal during appearances in Miami, Tampa and Fort Myers. The proposal for the 2017-2018 budget year will be considered by lawmakers during the annual legislative session that starts March 7.

The timing of Scott's proposal wasn't lost as he spent the weekend talking with law enforcement, along with aviation and cruise industry officials in South Florida, and directing state resources to aide travelers whose plans were interrupted by Friday's airport shooting.

"Whether you look at Pulse, or you look at what happened last Friday or look at what was happening today, state, local and federal will work together," Scott said on Monday. "But with regard to terrorism issues, it's very important that we have more state resources."

The money proposed by Scott would fund 46 new special-agent and analyst positions, which would be divided into eight squads focused on counterterrorism.