With an infusion of federal homeland security funds, every police officer in Grand Forks, N.D., is getting a gas mask, and every cruiser is equipped with gear that allows direct communication with state troopers, says the Boston Globe. A $200,000 bomb-dismantling robot is on its way to the city, a $50,000 vehicle to transport the robot is on the list, and a $205,000 fully equipped vehicle will be there soon to carry the bomb squad to a hostage situation, explosion, or what the police call a “weapons of mass destruction event.”
Officials from big cities and big states are crying “pork barrel” and demanding that funds be distributed solely on the basis of vulnerability and terror potential. “The reason North Dakota has gotten whatever it’s gotten has nothing to do with risk,” said Representative Christopher Cox (R-Ca.), who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. Cox is proposing that threat assessments should determine where the federal money goes. He called the current process “a seat-of-the-pants approach to national security.” North Dakota ranks third in the nation in the per-capita money it receives to protect itself from terrorists, trailing Wyoming and Vermont. In fiscal 2005, North Dakota will receive $12.85 million in homeland-security funds, $20.27 per capita. Massachusetts ranks 20th at $8.72 for each resident, with a total of $56.09 million.