Mayor asks feds for homeland security dollars

Mayor Bryan Baptiste has requested $6 million in federal funds to equip police with various first-responder equipment, and for security-monitoring devices for critical infrastructure assets owned by the county.

Carrying the requests to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee is U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-rural O’ahu, Neighbor Islands.

Baptiste’s first-responder request is for $2 million for Kaua’i Police Department officials to purchase personal protective equipment, explosive-device gear, decontamination equipment, and medical supplies.

The mayor has requested another $4 million to purchase security-monitoring equipment to protect county infrastructure assets such as water tanks, which if subjected to terrorist attack could lead to shortages because of the geographic isolation of the island, according to information provided by Case.

Baptiste could not be reached for further comment.

Federal funds could start flowing to Kaua’i for homeland-security measures long before Case can help shepherd the requests through Congress, though.

Though specific amounts haven’t been determined, the four counties will share $11.5 million of a $15-million federal grant for homeland-security issues, said Russell Pang, spokesman for Gov. Linda Lingle.

The money was released recently by Tom Ridge, secretary of the federal Department of Homeland Security. Pang said state Adjutant Gen. Robert Lee will work with representatives of each of the counties to determine how much money each county will get.

The federal funds, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office for Domestic Preparedness, must be used specifically for critical-infrastructure protection, first-responder preparedness and training, and equipment procurement, Lingle said.

The federal grant is similar to grants given to other states to address homeland-security training and equipment needs, and help defray costs associated with heightened hostilities with Iraq.

“We are grateful to Secretary Ridge for allocating these funds to help cover the costs of our homeland-security measures,” said Lingle. “This amount is more than we originally anticipated, and I believe it is due in large part to our state and federal partners,” she added.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at or 245-3681 (ext. 224).


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