Local, state officials seek U.S. funds to fight terrorism

Overtime costs for police at $3.5 million, mayor says

November 20, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Local and state officials asked Rep. Elijah E. Cummings yesterday to deliver a message to Capitol Hill: The federal government must allocate money for municipalities to defend themselves against terrorism.

At a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Maryland State Police Lt. Col. David Czorapinski said the home fight against terrorism is costly -- and they need help.

Cummings is sympathetic

Cummings, a West Baltimore Democrat who convened and moderated the discussion, was clearly sympathetic.

"The federal government has to step up to the plate and help our cities and our states," he said.

Speaking in front of about 50 people gathered in the auditorium of the university's Nursing School, O'Malley sounded the same tune that he has for the past two months.

He said that because of the terrorist threat, the city has had to pay out $3.5 million -- mainly in police overtime -- and is on track to rack up $15 million more in unbudgeted costs.

Cities need the money "so we don't have to go bankrupt ... doing what we need to do in these challenging times," O'Malley said.

Czorapinski echoed the mayor's comments: "We're spending money we don't have right now."

Briefing on terrorist threat

The event also served as a briefing for the public on the status of emergency preparedness and the terrorist threat.

A question-and-answer period followed the presentations of city, state and federal agencies that detailed steps they were taking in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks to protect the public, such as increased traffic stops and heightened vigilance to health problems.

Michael Clemens, assistant special agent in charge for the FBI in Maryland, said that the agency was formalizing a joint local and federal law enforcement terrorism task force.

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