Florida Sen. Bill Nelson calls it a "crying shame" that Florida is not receiving enough money from the Homeland Security Department. This follows release of new Census Bureau numbers that rank Florida 25th in per capita spending by the department.
Local homeland security officials say while there's always a need for more money, from what they've received locally they feel good about the funding.
Domestic Security Task Force members say since 9/11 the state of Florida is by far better prepared for disaster, in part due to the more than $500 million in federal funding to enhance security in the state, but is it enough?
Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell says, "Most everybody has the same opinions I have. ‘Gosh, thank you for what you've sent us.’ Could we use more? I think everybody could use more."
Sheriff Campbell, who also serves as co-chair for the district Domestic Security Task Force, says homeland security dollars enabled the 13-county area in the Big Bend to enhance security beyond their dreams. A new bomb robot is one example. Another is charcoal suits, weapons of mass destruction.
Tom McInerney, who also works with the state Homeland Security Task Force, says Florida has been fortunate to get the more than $500 million, bearing in mind these are dollars not received prior to 9/11.
Tom says, "If we were able to get more money, obviously we would do more of the priorities sooner but we have been able to at least prioritize our list and just each year, do as much as we can given what's available."
And for what's been spent, North Florida Domestic Task Force officials say they're prepared and ready. The North Florida Task Force has used money allocated to enhance the Big Bend Bomb Team, equipped SWAT teams with additional protective equipment and has established a medical team.
Currently, Leon County is second in the state with $153.87 per capita spending. That's just behind Monroe County where Key West is located.
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