WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, the House Committee on Homeland Security passed the bipartisan Darren Drake Act out of committee. H.R.4089, introduced by U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), aims to stop terrorists from using trucks and other vehicles as weapons. The legislation is named in memory of New Milford resident Darren Drake, a victim of the October 2017 New York City West Side Highway terrorist truck attack.
Now voted out of the Homeland Security Committee and reported favorably, the bill can be considered by the full House. The bipartisan bill’s lead Republican cosponsor is Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01).
To help prevent terrorist truck attacks, the Darren Drake Act requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop and disseminate best practices for vehicle rental companies and dealers to report suspicious behavior to law enforcement, helping them stop potential threats in their paths. These best practices will be developed and updated in consultation with federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as industry stakeholders.
The bill also requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to report to Congress regarding the implementation of these best practices and other ways they are working to help improve coordination between the Department and rental vehicle providers.
“This commonsense bipartisan bill is aimed at stopping ISIS-inspired and other domestic terrorists from easily acquiring trucks and other vehicles to wreak havoc and cause mass destruction and death,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I couldn’t be more honored for this legislation to be in Darren’s name. We all read countless stories about how honest, kind, and talented Darren was. As his parents, Jimmy and Barbara have told me he was just a great kid. Thank you, Jimmy and Barbara, for having the bravery to stand up for your country and your community, and for fighting for change in Darren’s name. We will continue working to advance this measure in Darren’s memory and honor — to help prevent future attacks and keep our communities safe.”
“I hope this bill will save lives, so that everyone across the country can be safe from attacks,” said Jimmy Drake, father of Darren Drake.
“We are considering: Mr. Gottheimer’s bill, the Darren Drake Act to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks using rental vehicles. It is named in honor of his constituent who died in such an attack, and I know this bill is close to his heart,” said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (MS-2) in his opening statement.
The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness’ 2020-2021 Supplemental Threat Assessmentput homegrown violent extremists and domestic extremists as two of the highest threats to New Jersey.
From 2014 through 2017, terrorists carried out at least 17 known vehicle ramming attacks worldwide, resulting in 173 fatalities and 667 injuries.
Both ISIS-inspired homegrown terrorists and domestic extremists have promoted ramming and vehicle attacks for years, with vehicle attacks on the rise in 2020.
Watch Gottheimer’s remarks yesterday in the Homeland Security Committee here.