Saturday, September 11, 2010

9-11 Attacks: First responders 9 years later

by Jim Kouri


"On this day, we also honor those who died so that others might live: the firefighters and first responders who climbed the stairs of two burning towers; the passengers who stormed a cockpit; and the men and women who have, in the years since, borne the uniform of this country and given their lives so that our children could grow up in a safer world." - President Barack Obama, September 11, 2010


As the nation remembers the shock and horror of the 9-11 terrorist attacks nine years ago, one sore point that continues to fester is the lack of training for local first responders especially in suburban and rural areas of the country.

In a survey of police commanders and sheriffs across the nation, the National Association of Chiefs of Police discovered that when police commanders were asked if the federal government provided or offered training to meet the increased threat of terrorism, 73 percent said yes. Fifty-four percent said that their department participated in a terrorism response simulation. Meanwhile, 75 percent said they have a written and practiced plan for disaster response.

Sixty-eight percent of police commanders say they've witnessed better working relations between federal and local law enforcement, and 53 percent said they had an emergency evacuation plan.

Off the record, several police commanders claim the fault lies not as much with the federal government as it does with the state and local political leaders.

"I know our state got some of the homeland security grant money, but what it's been spent on? I have no idea, " says one police chief who spoke on condition of anonymity. He went on to say that he's seen little difference in his department since September 11, 2001.

A police commander in New Jersey was even harsher in his assessment. He claims that New Jersey's then-governor received millions of dollars from the federal government, yet, with the exception of the state police, he's seen limited resources in his jurisdiction. The disheartened chief believes New Jersey didn't take homeland security seriously.

He points to a scandal in which the governor of New Jersey appointed his alleged male lover to the position of State Homeland Security Director. The SHS director had absolutely no law enforcement or firefighting experience and no command experience. It appeared Homeland Security Director was one of the patronage positions many local politicians have to reward friends, relatives and intimates.

Unfortunately, because of political harping by Liberals that the federal government isn't giving enough money to state governments -- especially by the likes of Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer -- more is being done to distribute money without providing federal oversight on how the money is spent.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for instance, it was discovered federal money may have been misappropriated by Louisiana officials to buy an airplane, open a casino, purchase fur coats, etc. An investigation will hopefully reveal the nature of this misappropriation of funds.

When a large group of police commanders and officers wished to travel to Israel to study their counterterrorism and response techniques, they were told their local agencies wouldn't pay for the training, transportation and housing. Many of these police officers paid for the program out of their own pockets rather than play the political games.

One cop said his city's mayor did not wish his police department to be identified with Israel. The Liberal mayor is said to have supported measures to coerce Israel into appeasing the Palestinians.

The bottomline appears to be simple: a more active role on the part of the feds to oversee training and expenditures when it comes to federal cash being used by local politicians.