KC faces loss of homeland security funding

In the wake of the Boston bombing, city council members got unwelcome news Wednesday that Kansas City is likely to lose its federal homeland security funding this year.

New Congressional guidelines for the funding say it should only go to the top 25 cities at risk and Kansas City ranks 31, officials told the Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee.

That’s “looming out there” and if it stands, the city will get nothing, said Gene Shepherd, city emergency services manager.

He sat with officials from police, fire and public health, who told how they used the money for training and equipment.

The Urban Area Security Initiative money has gone to metropolitan areas since 2003, with the amount to the Kansas City area ranging from $13.2 million in 2004 to nothing in 2011.

It was $1.2 million in 2012. The money over the years has purchased specialized equipment and paid for training that includes coordinated responses throughout the metropolitan area, officials said.

Besides preparing better for terror attacks, it improves response to natural disasters like tornados, they said.

Without it, they said, other money will have to be found to maintain and upgrade equipment and to train workers.

Councilman John Sharp said, “To just suddenly cut off the funding altogether and endanger the progress we’ve made is just silly.”

Shepherd said the city could lobby the state to get homeland security money that can be used statewide. Homeland Security also has a pot of other discretionary money that the city can try to get, he said.

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