Local
8:39 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Higgins raises Homeland Security concerns

A magazine linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula cites Buffalo-Niagara in a new article about America's "failing and fruitless" war against terror.

Local public safety officials and elected leaders are joining Congressman Brian Higgins in calling for the restoration of funding through the Urban Area Security Initiative.

Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News

After receiving $53 million in UASI grants between 2003 and 2011, Buffalo-Niagara was cut off by the Department of Homeland Security. Higgins says the region has every right to be concerned.

"When you're identified specifically by an Al-Qaeda inspired publication that is disseminated throughout the world for people that want to do harm to us, they're paying attention. The bureaucrats in Washington, particularly the Department of Homeland Security, need to pay attention on behalf of the people of this community," Higgins said.

Erie County Commissioner of Emergency Services Dan Neaverth says UASI funding is about sustainment of existing programs, not about buying new toys.

"It's about keeping our inner-operable communication. It's about making sure that when there's a standoff in the Town of Boston, that those tactical teams that respond are continuously trained at the latest tactics."

Given the region's international border location, Niagara Falls and its  millions of visitors, and many large sporting events and festivals, County Executive Mark Poloncarz says it's inconceivable and inexcusable Buffalo-Niagara's been left off the list for UASI funding.