Straub: Funding cut poses no threat to Super Bowl security

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The Indianapolis metropolitan area is among 33 nationwide that have been eliminated from a federal Homeland Security grant program for 2011.

Marion County and surrounding counties, mainly Hamilton, will lose out on $5 million to $7 million for equipment, training and personnel that had been anticipated for this year, Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub said.

That means police and fire chiefs will have to regroup and come up with a new plan for spending the $5 million they received in 2010, Straub said. Although Indianapolis has used past grant money to buy equipment and training for the 2012 Super Bowl, Straub said, "the security of the Super Bowl in no way, shape or form is going to be affected" by the loss of funding.

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced that it would spend $2.1 billion for 12 different grant programs, $780 million less than last year. One of the major cuts was in the Urban Areas Security Initiative. 

About $540 million of that funding will go to 11 "tier-1" areas, while 20 second-tier areas will divide $121 million.

Straub, who was in Washington, D.C., for a meeting with Homeland Security officials last week, told the Wall Street Journal that he disagreed with the policy that knocked places like Indianapolis and Buffalo, N.Y., off the list. He cited Oklahoma City as an example of a small city subjected to terrorism.

At the same time, Straub said he's hopeful that Indianapolis will have access to new technology and equipment through a partnership with Homeland Security. He said he was invited to a meeting because federal officials were impressed with the Indianapolis model of placing police, fire and communications under one public-safety department. "We may become a test site for DHS," he said.

Straub declined to talk in detail about what equipment or programs Indianapolis and other departments had planned to cover with the Homeland Security grant. One major purchase in 2009 was a bomb-squad truck.

Some of the people whose jobs are covered by the grant monitor security cameras in the city. Straub said the city might cover positions for a short time from its own operating budget. For the most part, he said, Indianapolis has avoided adding personnel through the Homeland Security grants, which have been declining for the past several years.

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