An Oklahoma City-based institute that offers free counterterrorism training to police officers across the country may be closing for good within the year.
Housed in the same building as the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism has trained more than 16,000 police officers since 2000.
The institute lost its federal funding, which it gets from the Department of Homeland Security, in September and is now in danger of shutting down.
The institute received a $2.2 million federal contract that was supposed to sustain it for three years. After one year of funding, that contract has been dissolved due to a tough fiscal situation in Washington, said the institute's director, David Cid.
“We have to find another source of funding,” said Cid. “We're looking into various places that we think might be logical.”
“If nothing comes out that way, ultimately, we will close.”
Cid said that funding cuts and sequestration may have played a role in the loss of their contract. He said they have enough reserve funds to last them another year at the most, and he has already had to reduce his staff by 50 percent.
The institute's flagship program, InCOP, trains officers to recognize signs of possible threats, as well as how to effectively gather information. The program has trained officers from all over the United States, including major cities like Boston, New York and Miami, Fla.
Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes has sent several of his officers through the program over the years. He said the training the institute provides goes hand in hand with both local and national efforts to prevent terrorism.
“I think it's an atrocity that they're going to lose their funding,” Clabes said.
With Tinker Air Force Base in his jurisdiction, Clabes said that the training is especially helpful for his department. Clabes said many of his officers not only trained there, they use the institute as a constant resource.
Cid said given the state's history with terrorism, he feels a deep responsibility to not only local departments like Clabe's, but others around the nation.
“All you have to do is look outside my window here at the memorial at those chairs and that reminds you of the consequences of us not doing the best we can every day to train police officers to prevent terrorism,” Cid said. “This is serious business we're in.”