Local News

Heightened Local Security Doesn't Come Without Cost

Posted March 28, 2003 12:12 p.m. EST

— The war with Iraq and fear of terrorist attacks on local soil have intensifed the focus on Homeland Security.

North Carolina has led the nation in beefing up states-level security.

A gate around the Capitol went up when the terrorism alert jumped to Orange level.

After 9-11, North Carolina became the first state in the nation to require people to register biological agents.

All the security measures will cost the state $13 million. That'll help first-responders to buy things like chemical safety suits, beef up security at government buildings and help protect our water plants from terrorist attacks.

Already in place is tougher access to state government buildings. Keyed security-code access is required for underground parking.

An access card is required for entrance to the buildings.

All the buildings are under heavy Highway Patrol presence.

There are Hi-tech radios for the Highway Patrol for better communication between troopers on the road.

All those items were bought with state dollars, with promised reimbursement from the federal government.

"Some of our federal money has been . . . a whole year or later following on," said Dr. Ken Taylor, director of the Division of Emergency Management. "One of the biggest things is wish the federal money would have come faster."

Taylor oversees local security measures from development and training of Hazmat units to responding to disaster. His most challenging task may be understanding the strings attached to federal reimbursement dollars.

"Although it said, 'here's $13 million,' we won't get permission to spend it until June," he said. "To have 13 million, you will need $4 million in state or local funds to get that $13 million."

The reimbursement plan is still a work in progress. Local governments want their expenses covered by the state. The state must decide who pays for the portion not covered by reimbursement from the Feds.