Senator Susan Collins has released the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security’s anti-terrorism and interoperable communications grant award allocations for the State of Maine:
“Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff called earlier today to notify me that Maine will receive $14 million in homeland security grants. Overall, this is very good news for Maine. Under the Public Safety Interoperable Communications grant program, Maine will receive $7.5 million to ensure that our first responders are able to communicate more effectively during emergencies,” Senator Collins said. “The incompatibility of emergency equipment hampered the response to victims of the 9-11 attacks and of Hurricane Katrina. This funding will help ensure that Maine’s police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel can talk with one another during disasters, whether they are natural or man-made. Strengthening interoperable communications systems has been one of my legislative priorities.”
“I am, however, concerned by the national downward trend in funding under the State Homeland Security Grant program, which is affecting all states. Maine will receive $6.5 million, a decrease from last year. Although this money will fund important prevention, protection, preparedness, and response activities, additional funding should be provided to improve the capabilities of all states. The Senate has passed legislation that Senator Lieberman and I have authored that would boost funding for this important program,” Senator Collins said.
Maine’s first responders use homeland security grant funding for emergency planning, risk assessments, mutual aid agreements, equipment, training, and exercises. Maine’s long international border, its expansive coastline, and its proximity to major populations centers such as New York and Boston require the State to be prepared to stop terrorists before they strike, to train for all hazards, and to deal with looming threats such as a pandemic disease.