WASHINGTON, DC—One the same day that federal officials announced cuts to two key programs that help keep New York City safe, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said that the federal government can make up for those cuts by providing New York with a $57 million boost to the city’s share of a third pot of security grants that have yet to be awarded.
In a call to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Schumer pressed for a major increase to New York City’s payout under the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). The failed bombing attempt in Times Square earlier this month was a disturbing reminder that, nearly a decade after the attacks of September 11, New York City remains the single greatest target for terrorist attacks in the United States. Despite this fact, New York’s share of funding from UASI has decreased by more than $56 million in the last five years. Put another way, New York’s slice of the UASI pie has gone from 25% of the total funding pot in 2005 to 18% in 2010.
In 2010, out of a total anticipated allocation of $832 million, New York is currently slated to receive only $151 million. Schumer said Thursday that in the wake of cuts announced today to New York City’s transit and port security grants, the city’s share of UASI funds should increase by at least $57 million, bringing the City’s funding level to a minimum of 25% of the total pot, where it was in 2005.
“It’s not too late for the federal government to reaffirm its commitment to keeping New York City safe. While we were disappointed by the cuts to New York’s transit and port security grants, the biggest pot of anti-terror funds is still yet to come. But New York deserves a larger slice of the federal pie than it is currently slated to receive. New York deserves to return to the 25 percent funding level that existed less than five years ago. The bottom line is, New York City continues to be the number one target for terrorism in the United States and federal anti-terror funding needs to reflect that reality,” Schumer said.
UASI funding is a critical component of the City’s investment in anti-terror measures. With this funding, the Lower Manhattan and Midtown Security Initiative will receive the needed resources to expand the downtown surveillance system to midtown Manhattanbetween 34th and 59th Sts.
The Lower Manhattan and Midtown Security Initiative is a program to increase surveillance efforts in Lower Manhattan and the Midtown section of New York City. The New York City Police Department plans to install over 3,000 security cameras in lower and midtown Manhattan, as well as 100 license plate-reading devices which are intended to scan plates and compare the numbers with information in a database. Additionally, the activities the cameras are programmed to pick up on include the delivery of packages,unattended bags left for extended periods of time, and suspicious cars repeatedly circling the same block. Other features of the system include mobile roadblocks and radiation detectors. According to the NYPD, the footage from the cameras would be monitored from a center staffed by police officers and highly trained security employees.
The City estimates that a 25% share of the total FY2010 UASI funding, an increase of $57 million more than what has been listed under the DHS targeted allocation for New York City in 2010, will allow them to quickly complete the camera network and expand it around the highly trafficked Times Square and midtown business and recreational areas.
Schumer said the increased funds presented an opportunity for the administration to make up for today’s announced cuts to New York’s port and transit security programs. Just two weeks after the Times Square bombing attempt, DHS today announced it was following through on a 27 percent cut to transit security grants and a 25 percent cut to Port Security Grant Program.
While it is true that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 did include security funds for New York City, Schumer said those grants were awarded in 2009 and were not supposed to figure into the calculation of New York’s 2010 security needs. He added that the biggest issue with the size of the awards is the fact that New York’s portion of the overall federal pot is simply not enough to protect the nation’s top terror target. While the relative threat level faced by New York continues to increase, New York's share of security funding has decreased since 2005. Schumer said that when it comes to security, the focus should not be on ensuring that every state gets equal funding, but rather that every state get funding commensurate to its threat level.
“New York should not be forced to settle for less than its fair share of these security funds. Eleven percent of port security funding does not reflect the fact that time and again New York is the prime target for terrorism in the United States,” he said.