'It reminds me of what we went through:' Orange County sheriff says of attack in NYC

Demings says he's fighting for more counter-terrorism funding in Central Florida

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A day after he got the call a terror attack was unfolding in New York, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said it brought him right back to the Pulse attack in Orlando last year. 

"I first was saddened by it because, once again, another American city has been attacked by a terror subject," Demings said Wednesday. "It reminds me of what we went through."

New York officials said on Wednesday that they believe Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, 29, was self-radicalized by ISIS propaganda posted online. 

It's eerily similar to the Pulse attack, as gunman Omar Mateen dialed 911 during his rampage to praise ISIS.

"I pledge my allegiance to (unidentifiable name) on behalf of the Islamic State," he told a 911 operator the morning of June 12, 2016. 

Demings believes self-radicalization is the biggest threat our country faces today.

"I believe the No. 1 threat to citizens in America today are individuals who have self-radicalized and even what I call sovereign citizens. They are probably the No. 1 threat to police and private citizens," he said. 

With the help of other local state and federal agencies, Demings said at Orlando's Central Florida Intelligence Exchange (CFIX), officials are constantly monitoring online. 

 "We are working across jurisdictional boundaries to share information," Demings said. 

The sheriff says today, however, terrorism is changing. 

"Since I've been doing this now nearly four decades, I've seen the weapon of choice for would-be terrorists from weapons of mass destruction to assault rifles to now, motor vehicles," he said. 

So how do you stop it? 

"I believe that America needs to look at improvements in its infrastructure," Demings said. "Crime prevention through environmental design. That's what architects look at today to really stop a hazard such as a bomb or a vehicle being driven through crowds, all of that is part of the plan we work within now." 

However, to do that, Demings said officials need more resources locally. Since terrorism is changing, so is law enforcement response.

Unfortunately, Demings said, Orlando is not high enough on a priority list for Congress to get counter-terrorism funding through the Urban Area Security Initiative funding. It's something Demings said he is lobbying for every single day. 

"Orlando is far down on the list," Demings said. "That in some ways is bad for us, because being far down on the list, but yet you remain one of those iconic targets for America, what we need here are dollars. It's very important to us."