Isles due $20.2M in security funds
Hawaii will get $20.2 million under the 2007 Homeland Security Grant Program -- much of it for better communications between public safety agencies.
The state will receive $12.1 million -- with $5.2 million going to the City and County of Honolulu -- of the funds to support homeland security strategies and continue building capabilities to handle hazards and terrorism cases.
Hawaii also will receive $8.1 million to improve communications between public safety agencies.
"This money will help the state's efforts to respond to, protect against and recover from terrorists' attacks and other disasters," said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, who as adjutant general heads the state Department of Defense, which includes state Civil Defense and the National Guard.
Honolulu was awarded $400,000 more than last year's total.
Honolulu now has at least $10 million available, as last year's grant has yet to be spent due to delays in procurement processes, said Peter Hirai, acting director of the city Department of Emergency Management.
"We target a broad range of investments as the technology becomes available," Hirai said.
In the past, the city has spent the grant money on new radios for the Honolulu Fire Department, a wireless network for police to free up bandwidth on other channels, and chemical protection suits.
About $5 million had been spent to upgrade the Fire Department's radios to the 800-megahertz system with the Honolulu Police Department so the two agencies can communicate.
"Our long-range plan is to have all of our public works partners -- including Board of Water Supply, refuse collectors and the sewer system -- to be interoperable with our first responders," Hirai said.
The money can also go toward improvements to the water system and other key infrastructure.
The grant is part of $1.7 billion for anti-terrorism efforts across the nation, according to the Homeland Security Department.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has said cities should not compare one year's award with the next since the program awards money to places with the most risk of threats.
New York City and Los Angeles topped the grants under the Urban Areas Security Initiative, with $134 million and $72.5 million awarded, respectively.
Hirai said the department will meet with other agencies to discuss a timetable on how to draw down the money.
"What may not be necessary now may be needed two years down the road," he said.