Oct 312004
 
Authors: Adam Ebner

Denver dropped from ninth to 39th in cities considered to be at

high risk for terrorist attacks, but security officials say the

city is not necessarily any safer.

As a result, Denver will receive less money from a federal

funding program that allocates money, often through grants, to

protect against an attack.

The funding is based on three main factors: population density,

the vulnerability of its infrastructure and perceived threats from

credible information in each considered city.

Specific reasons as to why Denver had such a significant change

have been kept confidential. Valerie Smith, spokeswoman for the

Homeland Security Department, said it might mean threats to other

cities have risen, making them a greater priority. She also said it

could mean Denver has a decreased risk of terrorism since last

year.

“It is not particularly useful to look at allocations and guess

what’s going on,” Smith said.

State and city officials in Colorado have a similar assessment

of the federal grants’ meaning. While it might appear to be a

relief for the city, it does not change authorities’ outlook on

taking precautions in the event of an attack on the city.

Tracy Howard, deputy manager for the Denver Department of

Safety, said the city accepts the change in ranking as a fiscal

report only. It should not change how officials or citizens view

Denver’s risk of terrorism.

“This ranking is based on a grant program through the federal

government,” Howard said. “Particular concern (for citizens) into

these lists should be minimal, and it doesn’t necessarily mean

people should feel safer.”

In 2003, Denver was the ninth in an initial distribution of

funds allocated in the Urban Area Security Initiative. The city

received $15.6 million in federal grants to help aid Denver in

preparing for any potential terrorist attack.

This year, that figure dropped $7 million to $8.6 million. This

was the most significant change any city listed in the previous

year.

Linda Rice, public information specialist for Department of

Local Affairs, said because the city dropped in the rankings,

citizens of Denver can feel safer. However, Rice does not believe

we have enough specific knowledge to draw any conclusions about the

risk of attacks on the city.

“Did they find (reason to suspect possible terrorism) more in

other cities than in Denver? We don’t know,” Rice said.

Rusty Enscore is an environmental health specialist at CSU and a

member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research

team in Fort Collins. He researches bioterrorism methods through

bacterial transmission and communicates these possibilities with

state and federal officials.

Enscore said little can be taken from a fiscal report to assess

how much more or less safe citizens of any city can feel.

“This is perceiving risks based upon a financial grant,” Enscore

said. “It is hard to draw any conclusions from something of that

nature.”

Thirty U.S. cities were allocated funding in 2003 amounting to a

combined $700 million. The 2004 budget increased to $725 million

but was divided among 50 urban cities, according a press release on

the Department of Homeland Security Web site.

Howard said Denver plans to use funding for improved

communication through radio development. He also said a portion of

the funding is designated to train first responders in preparation

for a potential state emergency.

The Urban Area Security Initiative has been in existence for the

past two years to aid cities in terrorist attack preparation and

prevention. New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. have received the

highest funding of all U.S. cities each year. Increased preparation

and funding to protect the nation’s cities is something Smith

believes everyone can take as a positive change.

“A tremendous amount of money is being used for planning to

allow greater resources to equip state and local governments to

prevent terrorism,” Smith said. “Overall the news is good.”

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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