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Homeland Security should get back to basics

GovExec's Fedlog flags a Denver Post article worth checking out:
If terrorists bomb a building in Denver, Fire Chief Larry Trujillo has a new $89,000 air vacuum shovel, bought with a federal grant, to suck up debris and reach buried bodies. It's a nifty high-tech machine, but Trujillo says what Denver really needs is basics. Denver today has fewer firefighters than it did Sept. 11, and their main rescue truck for responding to downtown emergencies is 19 years old. Denver also has fewer police officers, who lack a radio system that's sure not to fail. (emphasis mine)
The article highlights glaring deficiencies in homeland security, namely sufficient manpower. Not only are the numbers of first responders--firefighters, police and other emergency personnel--decreasing in places like Denver, New York, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, but they often lack appropriate training. It's great that there's a vacuum shovel available--too bad no one's trained to use it. Or have the means of getting the air vac to a disaster site. This is a case of badly-spent money not reflecting the real priorities on the ground:
The situation here is an example of a growing national problem in which Homeland Security grants arrive "at the expense of programs that really matter," said Gene Voegtlin, legislative counsel for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

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