The Department of Homeland Security will evaluate new requests for money from an $800 million aid program for cities based less on politics and more on assessments of where terrorists are likely to strike, the New York Times reports. Changes to the Urban Area Security Initiative are being driven in part by a reduction in the overall pool of money for antiterrorism. For 2006, Congress has appropriated $120 million less in urban grants than for 2005.
Domestic security grants have been criticized because they have sent more antiterrorism money per capita to sparsely populated states like Wyoming and Alaska than to states like New York and California. Until the application process is under way, it is unclear what the impact may be in cities now receiving money. Among grants criticized have been $557,400 to North Pole, Ak., a city of about 1,700, for rescue and communications equipment, and $500,000 to Outagamie County, Wis., population 165,000, to buy chemical suits, rescue saws, disaster-response trailers, emergency lighting, and a bomb disposal vehicle. Officials from smaller cities say they deserve a reasonable share of antiterrorism aid. Don Thorson, administrator for the grant program in Omaha, said, “We still are an urban area. And we still have risks. No one can predict where a terrorist might strike. Look where Timothy McVeigh struck. It was Oklahoma City.”