By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
A $66,000 grant has been awarded to the city of Meridian to purchase equipment for the Meridian Law Enforcement Center. The grant was presented by the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, on behalf of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
The grant is part of a $200 million federal program being administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security. The program is intended to improve emergency management and preparedness capabilities at the state, local and community levels as part of a comprehensive national emergency management system.
Tim Miller, who wears two hats, one as the chief administrative officer for the City of Meridian and the other as the director of the Meridian Department of Homeland Security, said this funding will enable the city to further upgrade the Meridian / Lauderdale County Public Training Facility located on Sandflat Road.
"We will be able to upgrade our technology at the facility while at the same time address some pressing needs we have in other areas such as training," said Miller.
Funds will be used to purchase training, response, and personal protection equipment for use at the law enforcement center. Fire and law enforcement officers utilize the facilities for a variety of training programs, including response, force protection (crowd control) and executive protection.
Miller said some of the funding will used specifically for wireless broadband use in both the classrooms and dorms. He said protective gear such as vests, goggles and other items used in training and on the firing range will be purchased with the money. Finally, he said ATVs will be purchased for use.
"The bulk of the funding will be used toward the technology upgrade," Miller said.
J.W. Ledbetter, Director of the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, said Homeland Security involves providing first responders and emergency management personnel with the required facilities and equipment to handle a multitude of situations.
“Those needs vary from training to protective equipment to technology. These funds will allow Meridian to make sure their training facility has the needed equipment to train officers statewide,” Ledbetter said.
Ledbetter said the United States Department of Homeland Security has directed state Homeland Security affiliates to use the funding to enhance existing capabilities within individual states for responding to acts of domestic and international terrorism, use of weapons of mass destruction and biochemical agents.
Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry said the announcement the city had been awarded the funding was good news.
"Anytime we can secure funding for something that is vital to the city and its people then we certainly are excited," said Barry. "Meridian is moving forward and we have to keep up with changing technology so this funding will help us to do just that."
The grant program is part of a federal plan for ‘All-Hazard’ response planning, beginning at local levels. The aim is the improve response capabilities for catastrophic natural disasters, potential for weapons of mass destruction, acts of terrorism, and chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear/explosive incidents. The initiative also improves local response capabilities for traffic agents, fires and other emergencies.
The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, a division of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, in fiscal year 2013 will distribute more than $5.29 million in Homeland Security Grant Program funding in Mississippi for training and equipment.