NYPD gripe over bomb-sniffing stiffingBy SUSAN EDELMAN
New York Post
May 23, 2010
NYPD officials are frustrated with the Department of Homeland Security’s delay in releasing funds that the Finest badly need for the prevention of a “dirty bomb” attack.
The Police Department said it has been trying since last fall to obtain an $8 million federal grant for a radiation detection system, which would instantly read data from 4,500 sensors in cop cars across the region to intercept vehicles carrying explosive devices.
“There are bureaucratic hurdles and delays between the time you apply for the money, and when you actually get to use it,” said Jessica Tisch, policy and planning director in the NYPD counter-terrorism bureau.
The money to set up the radiation-reading system in a Lower Manhattan command center would come from funds allocated in 2008 for the “Securing the Cities” program. It took the feds five months to respond to the November request, and only to ask for more information.
After inquiries by The Post on Friday, a Homeland Security spokeswoman said the department now has all the information it needs, and the project “will be approved in the near future.”
That news stunned NYPD officials anxiously awaiting a go-ahead.
“Amazing,” Tisch said when informed by a reporter. ”We have our plans in place and the last step was getting the money so we can convert it into real security for the city.”
Urgency to launch the system has heightened since Pakistan-born Faisal Shahzad parked an SUV loaded with propane in crowded Times Square on May 1 and tried to explode a fireball. A dirty bomb would disperse radioactive material.
The NYPD is also pressing for funds to put radiation sensors in each lane of traffic at all bridge and tunnel entrances to the city, Tisch said.
The Obama administration has eliminated “Securing the Cities” funding two years in a row, saying it was only a three-year pilot program and needs evaluation.
Rep. Peter King, (R-L.I.) led Congress to restore $20 million for the program this year and is pushing to get $20 million in 2011.
King is calling for a probe of Homeland Security’s grant process. He sent a letter Friday asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate persistent delays a year after a GAO report cited such problems.
King was infuriated by a letter he got last week from Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano implying that New York is sitting on $275 million in port and transit security funds, while all that money is in the process of being used — or was held up by the feds.
“That was a shameless attempt by Homeland Security to mislead the people of New York to cover up its recent 25 percent funding cut,” King told The Post.
A Homeland Security spokeswoman said $100 million in stimulus funds for security left the city $47 million ahead. She defended the delays, saying each request must undergo "historic and environmental review."