U.S. homeland security money has found its way into the coffers of cities throughout King County, Wa., targeted for everything from new locks on a city hall to a bomb-handling robot to waterproof digital cameras, says the Seattle Times. Some have raised questions about whether the dollars are going where they are most needed. The city of Seattle has voiced concerns that funding doesn’t give enough weight to the additional risks faced by the region’s largest city. “The threat to your particular area is an important variable in the equation,” said Edsonya Charles, an adviser to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. “Our concern is that the threat be taken into account.” A new analysis of $7.5 million in homeland-security grants passed on to local jurisdictions gives insight into how widely that money is being distributed.
Suburban emergency officials say they face potential threats just as Seattle does. If there is a major emergency anywhere in the county, they could be called on to help. The debate reveals tension among jurisdictions over where security money would be best spent. New York City officials and other major metropolitan areas have echoed Seattle’s complaints that much needed money is being spread too thin. Others have responded that urban areas are not the only places at risk. “I don’t know that we have any facility or structure that would be attacked. But you never know. There may be some other person or thing that would get them the publicity they want,” said Dick Baranzini, police chief in Sammamish. His city is adept at winning grants – about $225,000 over the past three years.