Seven cities split $100 million to buy emergency equipment

The nation's cities and states that are most vulnerable to threats of international terrorism are getting ready to buy new homeland security equipment for their first responders.

By Ben Ames

WASHINGTON — The nation's cities and states that are most vulnerable to threats of international terrorism are getting ready to buy new homeland security equipment for their first responders.

Leaders of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced April 8 they would award $100 million to seven cities, as part of the department's Urban Area Security Initiative. The money is for first responders' equipment, exercises, training, and planning.

DHS officials awarded the grants to "high-threat urban areas," says DHS spokesman Rachael Sunbarger. DHS administers all grants through its Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP), which measured each city's population, critical infrastructure, and vulnerability.

For instance, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels says his city is a likely terrorist target because:

  • the city has a major seaport;
  • has an international border with Canada close by; and
  • has many regional government assets such as aerospace, software, and military installations.

He also justifies his city's federal grant because of the increased cost of patrolling the harbor and responding to Anthrax scares.

The latest grants are:

  • $24.76 million for New York City;
  • $18.08 million for Washington;
  • $12.42 million for Los Angeles;
  • $10.74 million for San Francisco;
  • $11.2 million for Seattle;
  • $10.89 million for Chicago; and
  • $8.63 million for Houston.

ODP officials had also awarded $566 million in February, split between all 50 states for the same purpose. Many of the same cities had been funded then, too: New York State got $26 million, Washington, D.C. got $4.91 million, California got $45 million, Washington State got $11.3 million, Illinois got $18.8 million, and Texas got $29.5 million. Information on how other states split the $566 million is available on the World Wide Web at www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/ODP_State_Homeland_Security_Grant_Program.pdf

And there is more to come in 2003. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), now part of DHS, has promised $165 million for state and local emergency management, and $750 million for fire departments.

For state and local homeland security authorities who are not sure of the best way to organize these exercises and training, ODP leaders have just released the first volume of a guide to design and evaluate terrorism threat programs, titled "Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program-Volume I: Overview and Doctrine." Although the volume is not in print yet, the file is available online at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/odp/docs/HSEEPv1.pdf.

Future volumes will include: Volume II: Exercise Evaluation and Improvement, Volume III: Exercise Development Manual, and Volume IV: Sample Exercise Documents and Formats. For more information, check the Office of Domestic Preparedness Web site at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/odp.

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