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Posted on Fri, Oct. 14, 2005

FSU to develop standards for guarding U.S. ports
New $6.2 million grant will pay for the work

With nearly 21,000 containers a day entering U.S. ports like the ones in Jacksonville, Panama City and Tampa, Florida State University is being enlisted to provide better protection in these potential places for terrorism.

The university has received a $6.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop standards and training for port personnel to help them identify security risks and respond to terrorist acts.

FSU's Learning Systems Institute will develop 300 hours of Web-based instruction, including how to conduct drills and the use of model scenarios that specifically address port-security issues. The port-security program also will be delivered by certified instructors. The curriculum will be implemented over the next two years.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, security measures at the nation's 350 commercial ports generally have lagged behind airport and border security.

"Our first responders, security guards and law-enforcement officers at our seaports are our first line of defense against those who want to penetrate our most vulnerable gates to the outside world," said Aubteen Darabi of the institute, the project's director.

"There are no national standards right now," Darabi said in a statement released to the media. "With the LSI curriculum, they're going to be in a better situation with technologically advanced training courses and standards much more sophisticated than what they have now."

FSU was awarded the largest grant among 15 universities and groups that received shares of a $30 million grant package from the Department of Homeland Security. More than 260 entities applied for the grants.

The Learning Systems Institute "has an established reputation nationally and internationally in the field of training and instruction," said FSU Vice President for Research Kirby Kemper.

By Diane Hirth
Tallahassee Democrat