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Homeland absurdity: Anti-terror funds going to leafy ’burbs
By Dave Wedge
Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - Updated: 03:42 AM EST

State officials have doled out millions in coveted federal anti-terror cash to questionably qualified suburban towns for radios, souped-up trucks, riot gear, plasma TVs and other high-tech equipment, a Herald review found.

Among the findings:


Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard (population 17,000) netted $260,000 in 2003 for chemical/bio-terror response equipment;


Raynham (population 12,000) got $460,000 in 2004 for a "rail-based information sharing demonstration project";


Concord netted $1.7 million for a regional "anti-terrorism first responder program," with local officials maintaining, "As the birthplace of the American Revolution . . . Concord holds great symbolic value and itself represents a potential target for terrorists."


Five other part-time regional law enforcement groups based in Lee, North Andover, Waltham, Everett and Natick each raked in more than the $1 million given in 2003 to state police, which is Massachusetts' lead Homeland Security agency.

"Unfortunately this is not unusual. There are a lot of areas in the country that get Department of Homeland Security money for items they will never use and don't need but they're all happy to get the money," said Tom Schatz, president of the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.

Katie Ford, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Public Safety, which hands out Homeland Security funds, acknowledged that lax oversight during a change of administration in 2003 led to some questionable grants

"Whoever wrote the best grant application got the money," Ford said. "It was an imperfect system but it was the best we could do in the time the federal government gave us to get the money out the door." EOPS now uses a regional Homeland Security plan "based on threat vulnerability and risk-assessment," she added.

Millions in federal dollars have gone to regional "law enforcement councils" – called LECs – which are part-time SWAT teams made up of local police officers. LECs are often called out for back-up at major events while some towns call them instead of state police for major incidents. Critics argue they cause confusion and duplicate state police services.

North Andover, which handled $1.2 million for the Northeastern Massachusetts LEC, spent $100,000 on a converted Ford F-550 rapid deployment vehicle, $12,350 for a 50-inch plasma TV and $150,000 on 40 portable radios with microphone headsets, records show.

LECs no longer directly receive Homeland Security funding because of past "fiscal management problems," Ford said.

The Herald also found that Massachusetts shelled out $1.1 million in Homeland Security money for state police overtime for the Democratic National Convention, $262,000 for the World Series and $24,600 for the visit of the USS JFK aircraft carrier. World Series security cost an additional $12,677 for National Guard help and $171,602 for back-up from the Department of Correction.

Several towns also paid up to $50,000 a month in taxpayer dollars to Crest Associates, a consulting firm that was the subject of a federal probe into alleged misuse of Homeland Security money, documents show.

Two law enforcement officials said the probe apparently ended after the 2004 suicide of Crest founder Richard St. Louis, a former top public safety official under fire for his handling of anti-terror grant money.
 

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Re: Homeland absurdity: Anti-terror funds going to leafy 'bu

think SPAM put a few bugs in that Herald reporter's ear?
 

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So it's OK to misrepresent yourself and take money from agencies who actually need it?

Do you REALLY think Concord's argument is valid? Maybe Osama is planning on blowing up Concord because it is "the birthplace of the American Revolution?"

Maybe $50,000 a month to a corrupt consulting firm with political ties is an understandable expense?
 

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Re: Homeland absurdity: Anti-terror funds going to leafy 'bu

Where exactly is the $500,000 for Guy Glodis' Crisis Vehicle coming from????
HMMMM??????
:-k
 

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Re: Homeland absurdity: Anti-terror funds going to leafy 'bu

Raynham (population 12,000) got $460,000 in 2004 for a "rail-based information sharing demonstration project";
This is actually a very interesting project that the MSP and MBTA are involved in and will benefit all of LE in Mass if it gets off the ground.

It has to do with tying in the departments with fiber optics that has been buried for some time along the MBTA rail and major highways.

Taunton and Raynham are already linked together. Lakeville will be next and then Mansfield and Attleboro.

In a nutshell:

The pilot project is to utilize an already existing network of fiber optics that have been in place for approximately ten years now and are not even connected to anything. The fiber was installed along major highways and rail systems for future use. Apparently fiber optic lines exist all along the MBTA rail system as well as Rt. 95, 295, 495 etc...

The amount of data that can travel on the fiber line is outrageous. Example: Today's cable is equal to the circumference of a straw while fiber is the circumference of the Ted Williams Tunnel.

There is also talk of connecting every police department radio system to this network. The transmission single would be digitized and sent along the fiber. The radio computer system would be as simple as dragging the APD Dispatch icon to any one of the other department dispatch icons and the two departments could talk on the same system (direct).

The radio was just a side gig that they are working on. The main focus is on data sharing and tracking criminal and terrorist networks based on data input from the supporting departments.

The training on the networking software was boring as hell and most likely will be utilized by detective divisions on multi-jurisdictional cases.

I heard Rhode Island was doing something along the same lines with their IMC software.

The rail projects benefits us all, not just one department with souped up trucks or equipment that they will never use.

More information on the project can be located at the following two links...

http://www.raynhampd.com/INFORM3_files/frame.htm

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/REACCT/
 

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Re: Homeland absurdity: Anti-terror funds going to leafy 'bu

Working to share data on threats

Police join forces on rail safeguards


By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff | July 21, 2005

RAYNHAM -- For more than a year, a group of police officers from the region
has been quietly working to help prevent the type of terrorist attack on
public railroads that devastated the London transit system earlier this
month.

The regional group, backed by a $460,000 US Department of Homeland Security
grant, is trying to develop an intelligence-gathering system in which
departments share all the data they enter into their computers, whether
there is an arrest or not.

Technical roadblocks prevent the vast majority of information collected by
police, whether on a traffic stop or a domestic disturbance, from being
shared with other departments, police say.

The grant was awarded to a program called INFORM, which stands for
Integrated Fiber Optic Response Mechanism. It's a regional effort to connect
public safety organizations in a high-speed network, and includes police in
Raynham, Taunton, Lakeville, the MBTA, and the State Police.

The more information officers have, they say, the better equipped they are
to identify suspicious activity and see it in a larger context.

A hypothetical example: Authorities in several towns stop a driver because
of suspicious activity near the rail tracks, but release him without an
arrest. In each town, officers file a report on the stop, but the
information is never shared with other departments.

With the new system, an officer could quickly learn that the man had already
been stopped several times, each case involving similar suspicious activity.
Taken together, the events point to a possible plot to bomb the rail tracks.
The suspect can be arrested.

Think of it as a sophisticated Google for police departments.

Even if the idea is simple and obvious, the technical problems are daunting.
Various police departments use different software and hardware, which can't
always talk back and forth.

Another problem is bandwidth, which is how much information a computer can
absorb from another computer over a period of time. Most police departments
have limited bandwidth, especially for officers in patrol cars. No matter
how hard the computer tries, it can take in only a limited amount of
information.

The pilot program addresses both problems. An Israeli company, Svivot Ltd.,
is developing software so departments can share all the information they put
into a computer.

The problem of bandwidth is being addressed through an underutilized
resource installed by the state and other public agencies, fiber optic
cables, said Raynham Deputy Chief Louis J. Pacheco. The cables were laid
along railroad tracks and many major highways, such as the Massachusetts
Turnpike and Interstate 495, but have been rarely used.

The capacity of fiber optic cables for carrying data is almost unlimited,
said Pacheco. Besides easily sharing data, police could do video
surveillance, remote sensing, and distance learning.

The first baby steps have been made: Raynham, Taunton, and Lakeville are
connected, although Lakeville cannot fully share data yet. Officers from
Attleboro, East Bridgewater, and Mansfield were slated to be trained on the
system this week.

''The state saw the glaring risk with rail, and saw the huge amount of
unprocessed data at the local level," Pacheco said.

Right now, the priority is communities along rail lines. Later, if the pilot
program goes well, every police department in the state would be tied in.

Ever since the rail bombing in Madrid last year, the state has been
examining rail security issues, said Katie Ford, spokeswoman for the state
Executive Office of Public Safety, which awarded the federal Homeland
Security grant.

''We thought this was an interesting project," said Ford.

In six to nine months, the state will complete its evaluation and decide if
the program is worth expanding to other parts of the state, she said.
 
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