Friday, December 29, 2023

Ginny Welsch is lone Council member to oppose terrorist fighting tools for the Metro Police Department

by Rod Williams, Dec. 28, 2023- At the most recent Metro Council meeting, the Council approved the acceptance of a Homeland Security Grant of $740,450 that will provide the city with new equipment for the Office of Emergency Management and the Metro Police Department. The grant also included training in use of the equipment. The purpose of the grant was to "fund efforts to prevent, prepare for, protect against, and respond to acts of terrorism and other catastrophic events."

Among the equipment funded are atmospheric monitors, handheld spectrometers, pneumatic tools, portable radios and a Boston Dynamics Spot Robot. Usually accepting a grant from the Federal or State government is not controversial. Metro accepts grants almost every meeting. 

The part of this grant that was controversial was "Spot."  The robotic dog has specialized sensors that can detect possible chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats from a safe distance and is capable of investigating suspicious packages and suspected explosives. 

I am pleased to see Metro get this equipment including Spot.  We live in a dangerous world. It has been 21 years since 9-11. I am not going to surprised when we are next hit with a terrorist attack.  With our national borders unsecured and about 2 million unknown people walking into our country every year, I do not expect the next big attack to be airplanes flying into buildings but an attack on a well-attended public gathering by people who walked across the border. Events like Nashville's New Year's Eve bash would make prime targets. 

We do not only have a threat of international terrorism aiming at big targets to be concerned about, but we have the growing threat of home-grown antisemitic terrorist that are making threats against synagogues as well as a growing danger from right-wing anti-government groups. If a mysterious package is found planted in a local synagogue, I would much prefer being able to send in a robotic dog to investigate than a police officer.

Durning the debate on the resolution, Council Member Jordan Huffman explained the importance of the robotic dog for the MNPD’s hazardous device unit: "This will be utilized by the hazardous device unit by MNPD. I stated before that there have been over 300 [individual] bomb threats this year. If one of those is actually a bomb, then what we’re doing here tonight is worth it."

Huffman went on to explain the use for the atmospheric monitors, which he said will be placed in and around large crowds during events in Nashville to detect any harmful substances like anthrax that could potentially be thrown into the air.

Approval of this grant seems like a no-brainer to me. Why the opposition? Opponents apparently fear the robotic dog will be used to attack people and to spy on people. Watch the above video to see the debate. 

Ginny Welsch
cast lone vote against 
bomb-sniffing robot
District 22 Council Member Sheri Winer made a passionate plea for passing the resolution referencing the bomb threat that was made to Congregation Micah synagogue the weekend prior to the council meeting.

“My grandson and I are Jewish, as many of you in the room are,” said Weiner.  “I got a phone call as I’m walking out the door to take [him] to Sunday school, and my son-in-law with a quivering voice says to me, ‘Don’t take him, they’ve closed Sunday school.’ There was a bomb threat.”

Despite the resolution being thoroughly discussed and approved in committee, a move was made to defer action on the resolution. The move to defer failed by a vote of 15 in favor and 24 against. After more discussion the measure passed overwhelmingly with only one "no" vote and four abstentions.  District 12 Council Member Ginny Welsch was the only "no" vote. 

That Ginny Welsch would vote no is no surprise. While we have a lot of left-leaning progressives serving in the Metro Council, thankfully there is only one Ginny Welsch. While the Council is liberal, it is not totally nuts.  Ginny Welsch is by far the most radical member of the Metro Council. She has a consistent history of attempting to defund the police and votes against the police at every opportunity. There is no vote that she could cast that would surprise me. In 2020 she sponsored a budget amendment that would have slashed the funding for the Police by 40%.  Thankfully, she is one of a kind and no one is following her lead. She did not speak during the debate on the bill. 

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1 comment:

  1. Would not expect anything less from Broom Hilda.