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Blackwater CEO Speaks on Virginia Tech

Associated Press (2007-06-07) Mike Baker

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The chief executive of private security contractor Blackwater USA said Thursday that better-trained police officers could have helped limit the carnage in the Virginia Tech and Columbine school shooting massacres.

In a rare public appearance, Erik Prince told a group of business executives that both private companies and law-enforcement agencies too often assume their existing security measures are sufficient. "Virginia Tech or Columbine certainly busted a lot of those assumptions," Prince said. "When I saw the Columbine tapes, I saw a lot of law enforcement officers with really nice gear, equipment and weapons, but they had never really trained together. They had never tested those assumptions.

"The same with Virginia Tech - they had never really trained or planned for an active shooter."

Prince's company offers such training for civilian law enforcement, as well as members of the military, at its 7,000-acre headquarters compound in a remote area of northeastern North Carolina.

But Blackwater is best know for fielding its own security personnel. The company has won million of dollars in contracts from the federal government, including protecting State Department diplomats in Iraq and elsewhere. After Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans, Prince said, Blackwater had 145 security operators in the city within 36 hours helping stabilize the "total lawlessness."

Prince spoke at a security conference hosted by the North Carolina Technology Association, which invited business leaders from major U.S. companies to discuss security. He declined a request made through conference organizers to speak with a reporter.

During a panel discussion, Prince urged businesses to "fight complacency" and prepare themselves both for security at home and travel abroad, where he said people are often unprepared for instability. When war broke out in Lebanon last year, Prince said trapped visitors had made no alternative plans to leave the country.

"We got a number of calls to help get people out of that situation, and they were very much in a panic," Prince said.

Topic revision: r1 - 23 Jul 2007, RaymondLutz
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