The Fort Worth City Council approved the purchase of portable anti-vehicle barriers that they will use to prevent possible terrorist attacks at events drawing large crowds.
This decision came in response to the rising number of terrorists using trucks to mow down innocent people overseas and, more recently, in home front attacks like the one that occurred last year in New York.
On Tuesday evening, Fort Worth city council members voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of three Meridian Archer 1200 portable anti-vehicle modular barrier kits costing a total $181,628.
Randy Westerman with the Fort Worth Office of Emergency Management and Fire Department told Breitbart Texas the impetus behind this purchase was consternation over the “worldwide increase in vehicular terrorist attacks over the past three years.” By email, he said, “The Fort Worth Office of Emergency Management recommended that these barriers be used as a preventative measure to secure venues hosting major special events throughout the city.”
A city council agenda item memorandum for the June 5 meeting also noted, “These types of attacks have become the preferred method of attack because there is no need for specialized training and they are not likely to attract attention in the preparation phase of the terrorism cycle.”
According to U.S. News and World Report, 10 vehicular terror attacks occurred globally between 1996 and 2013. Since 2014, this number soared to more than 40 automotive-driven assaults. The publication pointed out that, since 2006, seven of these incidents took place in the United States. In 2017, a vehicle ramming attack happened in New York City on Halloween when an Islamic immigrant driver plowed into pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path near the World Trade Center, killing eight and injuring 11 others.
Fort Worth officials say they intend to use the barriers as a precautionary layer of protection at special events like those held downtown where there are “numerous avenues of approach for a vehicle ramming attack.” These kinds of barriers can prevent cars and trucks from charging into crowds at such large streetside events as the annual Parade of Lights, the Stock Show Parade, the Cowtown Marathon, and the Main Street Arts Festival.
An Archer 1200 kit contains eight barriers, a trailer, pneumatic lift, tow bar, and cable accessories. The barrier system’s manufacturer, Meridian Rapid Defense Group, says these products are for “high security incidents and events.” Their website contains a series of videos on the various kit components, including one that shows how quickly the unanchored, “drop and stop” barrier can be set up.
The company states these portable barriers are “specifically deployed to allow foot traffic and emergency vehicle access while addressing the growing risk of pedestrian assaults by malicious vehicle attack.” They have been used at high-profile concerts, awards shows, sporting events and stadiums, and the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. The barriers also have been deployed at U.S. military installations including Fort Wainwright, Alaska; and Kandahar Air Force Base, and the Shell Motiva Oil & Gas Refinery in Houston, among other venues.
Westerman also told Breitbart Texas, “The city is in the process of ordering the barriers now that the purchase has been approved.” Information as to when the city will receive the barriers was not yet available.
Funding for the barriers came from a 2016 Urban Area Security Initiative Grant approved by the city council two years ago.
Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.