Security Funds Rise, But Some Say It Is Insufficient
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Many New York elected officials praised a decision that will boost Homeland Security funding to protect area ports, but some said the increase would not go far enough.
“While it is good news that we are getting a greater percentage of the pie, the overall pie for port security is so small it hardly makes a difference,” Senator Schumer said. “We need Secretary Chertoff and the administration to fight for larger appropriations for port security.”
The Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, yesterday said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is getting $25.7 million as part of the latest round of funding. That is nearly four times the $6.6 million it got last year.
The announcement comes nearly four months after the agency cut New York City’s annual anti-terrorism funding by $83 million. The decrease, which brought the city’s annual allocation to $124.5 million, set off a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans in New York.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, said the latest allocation was a positive “gesture,” but that it was “only a fraction” of a restoration and that the city is still getting shortchanged. He said the real problem is that only 5% of containers are screened before they make it too the region’s ports.
“The biggest vulnerability we have is if somebody puts an atomic bomb or a radiological or chemical weapon on a container,” Mr. Nadler said. According to the Associated Press, the funding is meant to improve port security and is not to be used for cargo screening.
Mayor Bloomberg, who in June traveled to Washington to testify in favor of increased Homeland Security funding, said it is “gratifying that they are recognizing the risks here.” He did not expand, other than to add that he hoped the city would have a say in how the Port Authority allocates the funds.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, said the increase was an acknowledgement from Homeland Security that New York and New Jersey are major targets, the AP reported.
Mr. King, a Republican who was critical of the last cut, said it shows Mr. Chertoff had responded to criticism.
A spokesman for the Port Authority, John McCarthy, said a portion of the money would be used for video surveillance in police cars and to upgrade the employee identification card system. Some of the money will also go to the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which oversees passenger ships that dock in Brooklyn and Manhattan.