Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Funding priorities skewed by 9-11

By Canadian Firefighter   

Features Blogs Editor’s blog

July 25, 2008

One thing I hear over and over and over from emergency responders is that they need more funding. Money for training. More for community outreach and fire prevention. Money for equipment.

The New
Times had a story this week about a
different kind of problem for emergency responders: too much money for the
wrong things. The story is about the police force in
Providence, RI (a wonderful part of New England, BTW, if you ever get the
chance.) In the weeks and months and years after Sept. 11, the police force was
awash in money for lots of terrorism-related things. It has a 27-foot patrol
boat for the city's harbourfront. It has underwater cameras and intrusion
detection systems. It has a bunch of SUVs for emergency response. It has a bomb
containment truck,  special protective
suits, mobile data terminals – the list goes on.

But what it
doesn’t have – and hasn't since
Sept 12, 2001 – is a terror threat. But since
2002, the department has received almost $12 million in security grants.


At the
same time, criminal justice grants for things like overtime and hiring more
officers have fallen to less than $4.5 million. And
Providence has its share of crime problems. Funding
for one program to fight violent crime was cut virtually in half this year and
is scheduled to disappear altogether in 2009.

At a time
of year when we're all thinking about where the money will come from in 2009
for the things we want to do, it's a sobering take on budgeting an priorities.
You can read the the story on the New York Times site.

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