Charleston Co. Sheriff on terror threat: agencies face 'disadvantage'

In the days after a series of terror attacks in Paris left 129 people dead, Sheriff Al Cannon of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office stood reminding lowcountry citizens of the remaining terror threat in the United States.

"These kinds of situations can happen here," he said.  "We all need to be alert."

Cannon, who holds top security clearance, and has served on many panels on the issue of counter terrorism, believes technology is the biggest hindrance moving forward.

"They clearly got the message over the years to stay away from their cell phones."

The Charleston County Sheriff described the Paris terror suspects as skilled, likely holding real-world combat experience.  Cannon said terrorists are taking advantage of evolving technology, and have created safe havens through encryption services intelligence agencies don't have access to.

Cannon also noted an evolution in law enforcement response training, which changed following the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, where two teenagers killed 13 of their peers.

Current training looks to the first officer on scene to stop the threat.

"If you're going to be a factor at all, it's going to require you take immediate action."

The Sheriff said local agencies are also working with EMS, in an effort to get first responders on scene sooner, particularly when the threat is not completely over.

"We've found over time, we can't wait a building, for example, has been absolutely 100 percent cleared to start treating the injured."

A move, Cannon believes, could save lives.

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