More than $2 billion in federal funds have been made available to states to better prepare state and local emergency personnel to respond to future terrorist attacks, the U.S. Homeland Security Department announced yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 29).
“This funding for the men and women on the front lines of the war on terrorism is essential. We do not underestimate the role that state and local governments play in protecting American citizens against the threat of terrorism,” Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in a statement.
The $2.2 billion in department grants will be allocated to states through three programs, according to a Homeland Security press release. States would then be required to allocate 80 percent of their funding to local communities.
The State Homeland Security Program will allocate $1.7 billion to improve first responders’ capabilities by conducting training exercises and by purchasing equipment, the department said.
About $500 million will be provided to states through the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program, which is intended to help law enforcement agencies improve their information-sharing capabilities and reduce the vulnerability of certain high-risk targets. In addition, Homeland Security has also made $35 million available to aid in the development of Citizen Corps Councils, which are intended to help engage citizens in homeland security.
To speed the distribution of Homeland Security funding, states will now be able to apply online with one form to all three programs, according to the department press release.
“No longer will our state and local partners have to go to different places within the department to apply for terrorism-related funding. It ensures that nationwide, homeland security officials have one place where they can tap into the resources as well as the information they need,” Ridge said (U.S. Homeland Security Department release, Nov. 3).