Are Americans safer now than they were at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks? “It depends,” the Chicago Tribune concludes
Better security at airports and aboard planes, tighter border controls and sharper terrorism and immigration laws have raised sme obstacles for terrorists. The federal Homeland Security Department has brought needed coherence to the defense against terrorism and preparation for a post-attack response.
Many vulnerabilities remain. The Tribune finds that the extent of cuts in police and fire services varies from state to state. Local government cuts affect at least 24 states, and the financial strains are severe, says the National League of Cities. State disbursements to cities were cut this year by $2.3 billion, or 9.2 percent–the first cut in aid to cities in more than a decade.
Among cutbacks enumerated by the Tribune: Six fire stations have been shuttered in New York City. Firefighters have been laid off in Minneapolis. Metal detectors at the Missouri Capitol building in Jefferson City have been removed. Other sheriff’s offices in Ohio are struggling from the effects of layoffs. In nearby Monroe County, the sheriff resigned after nearly one-third of his deputies were laid off. The acting sheriff, Deputy Tim Price, said his office will run out of money Oct. 1. Price said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen.
States are taking “dollars that normally go to counties, forcing us to either raise taxes or cut services,” said Karen Miller of Boone County, Mo., president of the National Association of Counties. “I find it very frustrating that after 9/11, many states don’t have better emergency plans than they had before 9/11. From my perspective, nothing has changed.”