Remember 9-11-01

Neighbor isles to receive
fed funds for security

At least $1.5 million will be used
to boost efforts to fight terrorism

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Hawaii is in line to get at least $1.5 million to help the neighbor island counties upgrade their abilities to counter the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

State Civil Defense Vice Director Ed Teixeira said there may be even more funds coming from the U.S. Justice Department and appropriations submitted by President Bush to Congress in his budget. Teixeira said Bush's budget alone calls for $3.5 billion, which would be shared by the states for homeland defense.

The Pentagon already is spending an average of $1.5 million a month here to keep about 150 Hawaii Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel on patrol at all island airports.

Maj. Chuck Anthony, Hawaii National Guard spokesman, said those airport National Guard sentries should be relieved of their security duty by May 31 when the federal screeners are brought on board.

The number of National Guard soldiers at island airports climbed by about 25 percent during the holidays due to the increase in Christmas travelers, Anthony said.

Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie announced that the more than $1 million in federal funds coming to the state will be used to purchase personal protective equipment; chemical, radiological and bacteriological detection equipment; decontamination equipment; and specialized communication equipment, for use in responding to a terrorist threat or incident and other emergencies.

The funds were granted to the Hawaii Department of Defense by the U.S. Department of Justice's State Domestic Preparedness Equipment Program.

Teixeira said that this is the final part of a needs assessment project that started a year before the Sept. 11 attacks. That assessment and a subsequent three-part strategic plan disclosed that the state would need $4.5 million to equip and train people who would be the first on the scene in the event of a bioterrorist attack.

Last summer the Justice Department agreed with the state's proposal and allocated $483,000 to Hawaii, Teixeira said.

That money was used to help neighbor island counties purchase equipment for their hazardous-materials teams such as decontamination suits. None of the money was spent in Honolulu, Teixeira said, because fire, police and emergency service crews here already had gotten close to $1 million several years ago to purchase that type of equipment.

"Since 9/11 we've accelerated our preparedness efforts," said Abercrombie. "We already have an outstanding group of people in our first responders. But they need to have the equipment on hand to train and be ready to deal with attacks, threats and other emergencies. This grant money allows our people to purchase the tools they need to protect our homes, families and communities."

Teixeira said that following the Sept. 11 incident, the state reassessed its needs and doubled its request to the Justice Department, saying it now needs $7.2 million to be ready to respond to terrorist attacks.

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