San Diego receives funds to fight bioterror

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on July 15 that San Diego will receive $16.2 million dollars for anti-terrorism and emergency preparedness related activities.

Janet Napolitano announced the grants to a total of 64 cities as part of the Urban Areas Security Initiative, which this year gave out a total of $832 million in grant money for homeland security initiatives, according to City News Service.

In 2007, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders made four lobbying trips to Washington, D.C., after San Diego was taken off the list of cities slated to receive federal funding. That year, San Diego received $16 million.

The mayor’s office said the city will use the DHS money to help strengthen its emergency communications network and improve the entire region’s ability to confront a chemical, biological or radiological attack. A 2007 panel of observers from DHS concluded that San Diego’s ability to communicate in a disaster ranked sixth out of 75 cities evaluated.

The USAI selects cities to receive funding based on their relative likelihood of being involved in a terrorist attack. According to DHS, cities labeled as high risk, of which there are seven, receive over 50 percent of the annual funds. These metropolitan areas include Los Angeles, Jersey City/Newark, the Bay Area, New York City, Washington, D.C., Houston and Chicago.