Making LA Safer, Homeland Security Grant

Thursday, April 9, 2009 - 5:42pm

Washington is shelling out millions to make Louisiana safer. It’s coming in the form of a Homeland Security Grant. The aid is going straight to Louisiana’s first responders so they can be ready for any emergency.

Louisiana’s first responders and police now have the funds they need to be on the cutting edge when it comes to emergency situations. The funds come in the form of a federal grant totaling $19 million, divided into three areas.

First, a little over $1 million will be used to setup statewide urban search and rescue taskforce teams in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport/Bossier regions. Up until now, the closest search and search and rescue team was located in Texas. Governor Bobby Jindal says, “They can be deployed at any point in the state much more quickly than we can activate resources in other states today. This could be the difference in life and death.”

Second, about $1.5 million will help the state upgrade computer systems, improving communication across agency borders. The most significant portion of this money will create two new “fusion” centers in North and Southeast Louisiana. The need for these centers was seen just days ago when a stolen plane posed a possible terrorist threat to Louisiana. State police immediately activated the fusion center and coordinated with various state and federal law enforcement agencies. Col. Mike Edmondson says, “We know how much fuel was in that plane, how many hours that plane could fly. We knew the threat immediately. I can’t stress that enough because that has never happened before.”

Finally, the biggest portion, about $16 million, will go to local agencies where the money will provide the resources and training they’ll need if the disaster strikes. Leaders from every agency involved say today marked the most significant day in public safety the state has ever seen, showing that things aren’t just being talked about in Louisiana they are actually getting done. State Fire Marshal, Butch Browning, says “The governor obviously is about what is going to happen in the future, not about today, but the things we are doing today are going to make our future so much better.”

Governor Jindal says that being prepared for a disaster is just as important as responding to one.