Thursday, May 19, 2005

We could use a little more support...

I have an article here from the San Francisco Gate:

Cooperation on homeland security often is a one-way street, with federal authorities ignoring advice from state and local counterparts, the International Association of Chiefs of Police Chiefs said Tuesday. Homeland security efforts have focused on a few communities, leaving most others vulnerable despite billions of dollars voted by Congress since the Sept. 11 attacks, the chiefs said.

The nation's homeland security strategy "is handicapped by a fundamental flaw: It was developed without sufficiently seeking or incorporating the advice, expertise or consent of public safety organizations at the state, tribal, or local level," the chiefs said. Most police forces have "not significantly improved their ability to prevent, respond to or recover from a terrorist attack in their community," the report said. The chiefs said prevention also had taken a back seat to response to an attack. Federal money has gone increasingly to major metropolitan areas at the expense of public safety agencies in the rest of the country, the chiefs said.

In addition, the Bush administration has cut grants to local police forces and is seeking further reductions this year. The cuts have hampered state, local and tribal police in their day-to-day work, from meeting with community groups to investigating reports of strange and suspicious behavior, the report said. It noted that police came face-to-face with three of the Sept. 11 terrorists through traffic stops in the months before the attacks. "These activities are the cornerstone of any successful crime or terrorism prevention effort," it said.

Brian Roehrkasse, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the police chiefs organization was heavily involved in drafting the national emergency response standards the administration issued in January. More than $13 billion has been distributed to first responders, including many police forces, in the past two years, Roehrkasse said. He acknowledged that the administration has given priority to some urban areas that have been targeted in the past and could be again.

"We have made it a priority to maximize homeland security funds by allocating resources based on risk to ensure those with the greatest needs get what they deserve," he said. Steve McCraw, the Texas homeland security director, said he has been pleased with the cooperation between federal and state authorities. "There's a tsunami of information that comes in," said McCraw, a former senior FBI official.

First of all, can you use the word "tsunami" positively again? I would wait until 2006 before calling things tsunamis.

Seriously though, I can't say I'm thrilled at the administration for apparently cutting us off at the knees after asking for our help combatting terrorism. What the heck is the point of a Department of Homeland Security if not to bolster and support local law enforcement?

Now, having said that, I can understand why more Homeland Defense money is going to New York and LA and not to Appleton, NJ or Waxahachie, TX. I mean, Waxahachie is a bustling American icon, buuuut I have a sneaking suspicion that we might not see too many suicide bombings down there.

In any event, I believe that you won't find too many administrations more pro-cop, pro-soldier, and anti-terror than the Bush Administration. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that we are still in the feeling out stages for what the DHS is going to be all about. I hope in the future we see even more partnership and support from them.

I don't suppose any of you out there have any experiences working with the DHS that you'd like to share with the class?


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