The Department of Homeland Security announced $1.8 billion in anti-terrorism grants last week, stirring a growing debate among state and local officials nationwide over whether such funds are coming at the expense of other law enforcement priorities that some say are more urgent, such as fighting drugs, gangs and violent crime, reports the Washington Post. In a sign of shifting political winds seven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the nation’s police chiefs and the heads of its 57 biggest police departments objected this year to the Bush administration’s focus on domestic security, saying it has come as the White House proposes slashing traditional police-assistance programs by $2.7 billion as part of its annual budget tussle with Congress.
At the same time, leaders in Washington and New York — both of which largely beat back a move in 2006 to cut their funds by 40 percent — say the focus on cities at highest risk of attack is being diluted by increasing competition. At Congress’s demand, DHS added 14 new cities to the list of high-risk urban areas, bringing the total to 60. Tom Frazier, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said police face new responsibilities to counter crimes such as identity theft and illegal immigration even as federal aid for law enforcement dwindles because of “atrophy and attrition.”