Ridge Cites Security Progress, Urges States to Share Burden
The nation is making progress in its effort to bolster security, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Feb. 24, but called on states to help shoulder the cost burden.
In remarks to the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), Ridge cited efforts to improve security. The Transportation Security Administration, for example, successfully met deadlines to implement passenger- and luggage-screening rules at most major U.S. airports, reported the National Journal’s Technology Daily .
The Bush administration also continues to restructure border enforcement and immigration services, Ridge said. He also praised the development of a national network of sensors to detect biological threats and a new Customs Service initiative to screen containers before they leave foreign ports bound for the United States. “The list goes on and on,” he added.
But the department still faces challenges as it integrates federal emergency-response entities into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which will become “the nation’s incident manager” at Homeland Security, Ridge said.
Ridge said that while his department will do what it can to aid states and localities, the cost of security is a shared burden. “I do think on some of these [issues] there are public-safety responsibilities to share costs,” he said, according to the publication.
However, Ridge pledged to review some federal requirements mandating that states provide matching grants for safety equipment and other needs. Some officials expressed concern that those mandates are preventing state lawmakers from appropriating money for emergency-response needs due to dramatic budget deficits.
March 1 marks the deadline for all of Homeland Security’s member agencies to officially join the department. Ridge will partake in several ceremonies this week to celebrate the transfers.
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