County To Receive $1.73 Million In Homeland Security Funds

MIDDLESEX COUNTY—Middlesex County will receive almost $1.73 million in 2008 Federal Homeland Security Grants to help the county safeguard its citizens against any threats or acts of terror. The amount is about $250,000 more than what was received last year.

The funds will be used for county-specific security initiatives, which could include emergency communications upgrades, equipment, training and target hardening. The state must approve all spending proposals.

“My fellow freeholders and I ate steadfast in our commitment to keep our residents safe,” said Freeholder Christopher D. Rafano, chair of the county’s Law and Public Safety Committee. “These funds help us protect our first responders – the first line of defense in any emergency. The funds also help us stop acts of terror before they begin by giving us the resources to harden targets and train our staff and volunteers.”

“Middlesex County has an outstanding reputation for its emergency preparedness policies and programs and these funds will help us continue our work,” said Freeholder Director David B. Crabiel. “I thank all our employees and volunteers at the county level and most especially our local emergency workers for working with us to safeguard our residents”

Middlesex County received the fourth highest grant total in the state. Award amounts are based on each county’s risk factors, including assets, geography and population density. With more than 788,000 residents, Middlesex County is second only to Bergen County in population.

A state-mandated Middlesex County Working Group will meet to discuss how the funds are to be allocated. It will then make its recommendations to the Board of Chosen Freeholders. The working group is chaired by County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Rory Zach and includes Crabiel, Rafano, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan, other county officials and emergency management officials from the community.

Between 2003 and 2007, the county received a total of $9.3 million in federal Homeland Security funds.

Middlesex County also will split $34.9 million with six other counties and Jersey City and Newark as part of the Metro Area Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) group. Monies awarded through this program must be used for initiatives that will benefit the entire region, one of several throughout the nation singled out because of its proximity to and inclusion of large urban centers.

UASI group members work together to improve preparedness and response capabilities for the region, which includes Middlesex, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic counties and Newark and Jersey City.

County officials, including Rafano, Kaplan and Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, successfully lobbied in 2006 for the county’s inclusion in the UASI group because of its risk factors.

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