to know the community better?" she said. "Who's going to know if something is out of place better than a street crew out there every day sweeping the streets?"

Perkosky said those types of personnel should be equipped with GIS functionality and proper communications tools to make notes, track information and relay information to police or fire departments.

"Certainly their radios don't have to be on the same level of interoperability and secure communications as police and fire," she said. "But they do need that equipment to participate in a holistic view of homeland security, and they don't have it."

A Change in 2004?

The general consensus is that to improve the disbursement of homeland security funds, a process change is needed, but the DHS has given mixed signals as to whether that will happen.

In early 2003, DHS Secretary Tom Ridge said the White House was working with Congress to develop a new formula. Later in the year he told Newsweek that may not happen. "I'm not sure we're ever going to come up with a formula," Ridge was quoted as saying.

Rinerson said he believes common sense will prevail, and the DHS will realize the current formula is flawed and basing funding on either protecting key assets or protecting against an identified threat are the best methodologies.

Perkosky is looking toward legislation for a solution. In November 2003, a bill authored by Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., HR 3266, also called "Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders," passed through the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness and Response.

The bill would require Ridge to approve grants based on relevance to threat, vulnerability and consequences. It would also reduce the 12-step grant application process to two steps and allow Ridge to authorize grants to multistate or intrastate regions.

Perkosky is confident it will become law, and said she believes the bill will pass through the full committee this year. "I don't have anything to go on but gut instinct and watching the amount of lobbying being done on behalf of cities and counties, in particular the bigger ones," she said. "It would be a wonderful enhancement."

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor