OC Hears Homeland Security Update

OCEAN CITY – The City Council was briefed on the town’s Homeland Security Grant Initiative this week, receiving an update on the current initiative and a briefing of spending goals for 2008.

Wayne Pryor, Special Programs and Grants Manager, reported that to date, $2.8 million in grant money has been received. Some of the accomplishments that have resulted from the grant money include bomb squad equipment, which has launched Ocean City’s bomb squad to the status as one of the best in the state, the OC-1 Incident Command vehicle, back-up generators, finger print systems, surveillance cameras, security at the 65th Street complex, mobile data terminals and the CERT Program.

“The state recognizes how important this city is to the area,” Pryor said.

The grant money begins at the federal level, where it is distributed to individual states. Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) then decides how the money will be distributed among the 26 emergency management districts, one of which is Ocean City.

A change was recently made in the process, giving districts more flexibility in spending grant money.

“The federal government extended grants to a 36-month period, which takes some of the pressure off. It gives us a lot more flexibility,” Pryor explained. The performance period was expanded to March 31, 2010.

Pryor noted that continuation projects generally receive priority funding.

Some of the continuation projects receiving further grant money are a generator for Public Works, three MDT units for fire engines, hook and line kits for the fire marshal, and phase three of the surveillance project.

One of the new projects that have been adopted by the Homeland Security Grant Initiative is the dual band radio project, a project that the City Council was surprised to see on the list.

The dual band radio project will replace half of the radios in the Ocean City Police Department, supplying full-time officers with new radios. The old radios will be passed down to seasonal police officers and their radios will be passed down to the fire department.

Despite the benefits of the project, the City Council pointed out that they had directed for the in-car camera project to be placed higher on the grant money list, an initiative that did not make the list at all.

“All the modern police departments have them. It’s hard to believe we don’t have in-car cameras. It makes no sense to me,” said Councilman Jim Hall.

Police Chief Bernadette DiPino pointed out that the department was not ready at this time to undergo the in-car camera project.

“We are in the process of researching which one of the systems is the best system. There’s many different systems,” she said. “Its still a priority, the only reason its not in the grant is we thought the radio project held priority. … There’s a lot more to it than just buying the camera and putting it in the window.”

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