Rockland County has long been excluded from receiving federal anti-terrorism funding as part of the New York City-metropolitan area security net.
Sheriff James Kralik has raised the issue of Rockland being excluded from the Urban Area Securities Initiative since after Sept. 11, 2001. Several years ago, then Assemblyman Ryan Karben, D-Monsey, and Legislator Ellen Jaffee, who succeeded Karben in the Assembly, raised the issue, as have other county officials.
Now, Rep. Eliot Engel. D-Bronx, who represents parts of Rockland and Westchester counties, has picked up the gauntlet. The argument has been that Rockland is not a potential target for terrorism. The county has marked several sites, including the Tappan Zee Bridge, power plants and grips, malls and neighborhoods, as potential targets.
â€œRockland in an integral part of the area, and with the Tappan Zee Bridge and the New York State Thruway, it has primary terrorist targets as well,” Engel said in a news release. “The various Metropolitan area agencies that are a part of UASI must be willing to include Rockland in our safety net. Itâ€™s time for the security net around New York City to be complete. New York State should take a leadership role in making this happen.â€
For an area to be a part of the UASI funding it must be contiguous with New York City, such as Westchester, or an agency in the city, such as the Port Authority. Only a small part of Rockland is considered contiguous. Engel, there are notable exceptions. Suffolk County, which is separated from New York City by all of Nassau County, nevertheless gets UASI funds.
Last year , Engel got an additional $20 million included in the Urban Area Securities Initiative budget, raising it to $850 million, and this year he is working to get it raised again, this time to $900 million.
â€œNow itâ€™s time for Rockland to be included,â€ Engel said. â€œThe other agencies funded under UASI are reluctant to give up a share of the funding that would go to Rockland, but that is why I got additional money put in last yearâ€™s budget, and why Iâ€™m fighting to get an additional increase in this yearâ€™s budget.â€
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