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Washington Official Calls for Larger Local Involvement in US Terror Fight - 2003-11-06

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says domestic law enforcement must take a larger role in preventing potential terrorist attacks.

Mr. Ridge announced Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security will allocate an additional $2.2 billion in grants for states to find ways to prevent terrorism. Mr. Ridge says the money is part of a new focus by the Bush administration to bolster public safety at the local level.

"Terrorism is clearly one crime that must be solved. It must be deterred, and it must be defeated before it occurs," he said. "That's why the president has asked federal law enforcement to shift its focus to prevention of terrorist acts, to be first preventers, as well as first responders."

Mr. Ridge made the comments to a group of law enforcement officials at the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation's annual meeting, where he was also given the group's National Service Award.

The $2.2 billion will be available to state and local governments in fiscal year 2004, and is part of the Department of Homeland Security's $37.6 billion budget for next year.

The money will fund three initiatives, the State Homeland Security Program, the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program and the Citizen Corps.

Mr. Ridge says the application process will be easier for states than it has been in the past, because now, they can apply for all three programs with one form.