$1 million due port, city from Homeland Security

Two of eight applications from area were approved

September 14, 2005|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

Baltimore and its port will share about $1 million in security money from the Department of Homeland Security, agency officials said yesterday, although they couldn't immediately say where it would be used.

The federal agency said yesterday that it had not yet notified the recipients, and only two of eight applications from the Baltimore area were funded. Only about a third of the $406 million in requests nationally were approved during this round of funding, Homeland Security's fifth since the 2001 terrorist attacks led to the department's creation.

Baltimore has been labeled one of 66 priority port regions by Homeland Security, and has received millions in four other rounds.

When combined with state money, about $17.6 million has been dedicated to Maryland's defenses. Some items sought by the port include fencing around the port, surveillance equipment and a patrol boat.

In this round of funding, the Maryland Port Administration, which oversees the state's public terminals, will split the $1.028 million with the city of Baltimore.

Port officials, who have acknowledged that they are not meeting all their security needs, said they were not notified of which of its projects would be funded.

The city's request for funding came from the Police Department, which also wasn't officially notified of its grant. But the official who sought funding said the city will receive its entire $1 million request for such things as underwater sonar equipment for police boats, closed-circuit television technology that can send images from the waterfront to police headquarters and radiation and chemical detection monitors.

In past rounds, the city has received money for police boats and high-tech camera equipment to cover the Inner Harbor and the port.

"The thing we, cities, like is that we applied directly to the government in June and here it is Sept. 13 and we're getting notification," said Kristen Mahoney, the Police Department's chief of technical services.

Homeland Security used formulas to weigh threats, vulnerability and consequences to people, the economy and national security. The Coast Guard helped rank requests.

"These grants provide another layer of security to help protect ports from terrorism, safeguard nearby communities and ensure the uninterrupted flow of global commerce," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in a statement.

The federal office handed out nearly $142 million to 36 port cities from coast to coast. Gulf region ports including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., were also recipients, and federal officials said the money will be held in reserve.

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