The federal government doles out too much anti-terrorism money to towns and cities for emergency equipment that rarely gets used while cash-strapped police struggle with crime, say a growing number of mayors, police chiefs, and security experts cited by USA Today. Seven years after 9/11, some are asking the government to re-examine spending hundreds of millions of dollars on bomb robots, chem-bio suits, and equipment that often gathers dust in warehouses. “The simple truth is that average Americans are much more likely to find themselves victims of crime than of terrorist attack,” the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) says in calling on the next president to shift money back to crime fighting.
Since 2003, when the Homeland Security Department was created, the government has given states and cities $22.7 billion for emergency preparedness. Big cities have complained that too much was sent to remote towns; police complain that they couldn’t use it for overtime. “In terms of day-to-day crime fighting, we’re far worse off than we were before 9/11,” says IACP president Ronald Ruecker. The U.S. Conference of Mayors also is challenging Washington’s priorities. Since 2001, spending on local policing has been cut 81 percent while an average of 34 people are gunned down every day. “If al-Qaeda were responsible for 34 deaths a day in the United States, the nation would do whatever was necessary to stop the deaths,” the mayors said in a letter to the next president.