Daily Breeze

May 15, 2003

L.A. to get more dollars for security

By TOBY ECKERT
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON — An additional $32.5 million in federal homeland security aid is bound for the Los Angeles area, including $9 million for the ports, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.

The money is being distributed as part of a $700 million grant program for urban areas. The department said it used a formula that took account of threat information, major facilities that require security and population density.

The largest chunk of money for the Los Angeles area, $18.87 million, will go to the city and contiguous counties. It can be used to fund emergency response agencies and cover costs associated with the heightened terrorism alert level during the war with Iraq.

Paul Tanaka, chief of the Administrative Services Division at the Sheriff’s Department, heard about the award late in the day. He didn’t know how much of the money was headed for his department.

“We’ll use whatever we receive to make sure we’re properly equipped and trained in the event of terrorist activity in Los Angeles,” Tanaka said. “We’d also like to use the funds to enhance our mutual aid capability with neighboring cities and counties.” Los Angeles is one of seven cities that shared $100 million in grants last month and is to get additional funding. The others are New York, $125 million; Washington, $42.4 million; Chicago, $30 million; Houston, $23.8 million; San Francisco, $18.6 million; and Seattle, $18.2 million.

The port funds can be used to cover operational expenses for the heightened alert and for security enhancements, training, exercises, equipment, planning and information-sharing initiatives.

Those funds will be split between Los Angeles and Long Beach based on vulnerability assessments submitted to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration or the Coast Guard. Los Angeles port officials had not heard the news.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority will get $4.57 million under an allocation for the “highest risk systems in the country,” according to the Homeland Security Department.

The money can be spent on monitoring systems, including video surveillance cameras and chemical and radiation detectors; integrated communications systems; emergency training; and expenses related to the heightened alert level, including some overtime costs.

“If this is true, it’s fantastic,” MTA spokesman Gary Wosk said. “It’s well known that transit agencies have been identified as potential targets for terrorists. This will allow us to implement better safety measures on our bus and rail system. Our passengers should feel safer knowing that.”

Daily Breeze staff writer Traci Isaacs contributed to this article.