As the nation remembers the shock and horror of the 9-11 terrorist attacks five years ago, one sore point that continues to fester is the lack of training for local first responders especially in suburban and rural areas of the country.
In a survey of police commanders and sheriffs across the nation, the National Association of Chiefs of Police discovered that 70 percent of the survey respondents said they received federal training to meet the increased threat of terrorism. That's the good news.
The bad news is that only 50 percent of these respondents said their departments participated in any state or local terrorism response simulation. This leaves many police chiefs concerned.
Off the record, several police commanders claim the fault lies not as much with the federal government as it does with the state and local political leaders.
"I know our state got some of the homeland security grant money, but what it's been spent on? I have no idea, " says one police chief who spoke on condition of anonymity. He went on to say that he's seen little difference in his department since September 11, 2001.
A police commander in New Jersey was even harsher in his assessment. He claims that New Jersey received millions of dollars from the federal government, yet, with the exception of the state police, he's seen limited resources in his jurisdiction. The disheartened chief believes New Jersey didn't take homeland security seriously.
He points to a scandal in which the governor of New Jersey appointed his alleged male lover to the position of State Homeland Security Director. The SHS director had absolutely no law enforcement or firefighting experience and no command experience. It appeared Homeland Security Director was one of the patronage positions many local politicians have to reward friends, relatives and intimates.
Unfortunately, because of political harping by Liberals that the federal government isn't giving enough money to state governments -- especially by the likes of Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer -- more is being done to distribute money without providing federal oversight on how the money is spent.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for instance, it was discovered federal money may have been misappropriated by Louisiana officials to buy an airplane, open a casino, purchase fur coats, etc. An investigation will hopefully reveal the nature of this misappropriation of funds.
When a large group of police commanders and officers wished to travel to Israel to study their counterterrorism and response techniques, they were told their local agencies wouldn't pay for the training, transportation and housing. Many of these police officers paid for the program out of their own pockets rather than play the political games.
One cop said his city's mayor did not wish his police department to be identified with Israel. The Liberal mayor is said to have supported measures to coerce Israel into appeasing the Palestinians.
The bottomline appears to be simple: a more active role on the part of the feds to oversee training and expenditures when it comes to federal cash being used by local politicians.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.