Nov. 7, 2003 – The Virgin Islands has been awarded more than $6 million in the latest round of federal homeland security funding allocations, placing it fourth among all the states and territories on a per-resident basis, Delegate Donna M. Christensen said on Friday.
The award is part of $2.2 billion in grants from the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Domestic Preparedness, the delegate said in a release from her Washington, D.C., office.
"It has been calculated that we received $55.65 per capita," Christensen said.
Christensen, a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security and its Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, said the territory's relatively high level of funding has raised some eyebrows in the nation's capital.
"I have had to explain to several reporters that while our population is small, we are part of the southern border of the country with the largest cruise port in the Caribbean on one island and the largest oil refinery in the Western Hemisphere on another," she said.
"We also don't have the multiple levels of funding that other jurisdictions have" — municipal, county, regional and state — she noted.
Particularly in light of such scrutiny in Washington, Christensen said, "It is incumbent on us to be wise in the way that we utilize this and any other federal funding. The needs of many communities are great, and there will continue to be stiff competition for funding."
The domestic preparedness funds are part of the federal government's Fiscal Year 2004 budget, Christensen said. They will be distributed as part of three programs providing "significant resources to the state and local governments" — the State Homeland Security Program, the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program and the Citizen Corps Program.
According to the delegate's release, the territory is to receive:
– Nearly $4.6 million in State Homeland Security Program funds, intended to help pay for public safety and law-enforcement planning, training, equipment, exercises and other costs associated with enhancing local and state capabilities to prevent, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks.
– Nearly $1.4 million in Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program funds, to enhance the capabilities of law-enforcement agencies to detect, deter, disrupt and prevent acts of terrorism, specifically incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
– $95,000 in Citizens Corps Program funds, to be used to support Citizen Corps Councils with planning, outreach and management of programs and activities.
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