Gary Mayor Scott King Tells New Jersey Mayors that Federal Resources Are Needed for Homeland Security
by Debra DeHaney-Howard
April 29, 2002
More than 350 mayors from across New Jersey gathered in Atlantic City April 17th'19th for the New Jersey Conference of Mayors (NJCM) 39th Annual Conference and Exposition entitled, "New Era Preparedness...All Crisis are Local."
As co'chair of The United States Conference of Mayor's Federal'Local Law Enforcement Task Force, Gary Mayor Scott King spoke at the plenary session luncheon April 18, telling the New Jersey mayors that "as a nation we're fighting a different kind of war, one front in Afghanistan and the second front at home, yet we have insufficient equipment, too little training, and not enough intelligence sharing." King said, "while we are starting to see results, we still have very little in the way of national funding targeted for homeland defense where it is truly needed, at the local government level."
King told the audience of more than 900 participants including public and private officials that "more federal resources are needed to fight the war on terrorism." Citing a recent study by The U. S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), King said, "Cities will spend an additional $2.6 billion on security costs from September 11, 2001 through the end of 2002." King stated that President Bush has proposed a $3.5 billion first responders initiative. He noted that funding would be allocated by the states. "This is an important step forward, but the money needs to go directly to cities," King added.
King also talked about the homeland security block grant bill sponsored by Senator John Corzine (NJ) and Senator Hillary Clinton (NY), which would provide resources directly to cities, and with the flexibility to use them for overtime. King encouraged the gathered mayors to work closely with their congressional delegation to help get the bill passed. "We need an earmark to local governments, rather than a pass through from the states," said King.
Joining with King at the dais were the organization's board of directors. Other guests included U. S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie and New Jersey State Assistant Attorney Kathryn Flicker.
In a session later that afternoon, Mayor King joined with Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer NJCM President and Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters, USCM Executive Director Thomas Cochran, and U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie to discuss homeland security. This session was a special televised event sponsored by NJN "On the Record".
In this discussion, King emphasized mayors concerns about the lack of resources available to protect cities. "We simply cannot fund homeland defense by de'funding local law enforcement," said King.
Like King, Palmer emphasized the need to protect cities through an increase in information sharing between federal law enforcement and local law enforcement. "The Conference of Mayors supports federal legislation in the House and Senate that will remove barriers that prevent the federal government from sharing needed information with cities," said Palmer.
Speaking to the issue of transportation security, USCM Executive Director Cochran said, "Thirty'six hours after September 11, The U. S. Conference of Mayors called for federalization of screening at airports, and we continue to work on a number of priorities related to aviation security and homeland security."
Mayor Walters stated that "small cities have the same security concerns as large cities. "As a mayor of a city whose population grows to over 35,000 in the summer months, we are challenged by the lack of resources needed to provide our visitors with a safe and secure community," said Walters.
Cities are on the Front Line of Defense
The NJCM commenced their 39th Annual Conference with a press briefing that echoed the Conference's theme on Homeland Security. U. S. Conference of Mayors Advisory Board member and Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer moderated this press briefing, entitled "New Era Preparedness... All Crisis are Local" and co'sponsored by the United States Conference of Mayors and the New Jersey Conference of Mayors.
"Mayors and police chiefs are on the frontlines ensuring safety and security in America's cities," Palmer said in his opening remarks. "We know how to fight crime; cities across the nation have seen dramatic reductions in major crimes over the past decade," said Palmer. Mayor Palmer cited the reason for the progress in crime reduction is due to the A strong federal partnership the mayors have built over the years. Palmer noted that the "partnership is in jeopardy because the Administration's budget proposes cutting the COPS program by 80 percent and a $200 million cut in the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program." "Mayors and police chiefs nationwide strongly oppose these cuts, which would seriously impact our ability to fight crime," said Palmer. Palmer concluded his remarks by praising President Bush's leadership on homeland security but noted that "we must not rob Peter to pay PaPalmer was joined by Gary Mayor Scott King, New Jersey Mayors Tim McDonough, Suzanne Walters, and Ralph Peterson, U. S. Attorney Christopher Christie and NJ State Troopers Association President, Ken McClellum.
Palmer was joined by Gary Mayor Scott King, New Jersey Mayors Tim McDonough, Suzanne Walters, and Ralph Peterson, U. S. Attorney Christopher Christie and NJ State Troopers Association President, Ken McClellum.
Mayor King cited coordination and communication between the federal, state and local government as a key component in keeping the nation's cities safe and secure. Shortly after September 11, King stated that "it became apparent that as a country we lacked an infrastructure of coordination between federal and local law enforcement." "With over 650,000 local officers, our nation's police forces must be integrated into our national homeland defense planning," said Mayor King. Currently there are approximately 11,000 thousand federal agents and approximately 650,000 local law enforcement agents. King noted that over the past couple of months there has been progress made on strengthen the coordination between federal, state, and local governments.
NJCM President and Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters added that the information flow needs to be two way "from top down and the bottom up." "Our homeland will be secure when our home towns are secure," said Mayor McDonough.
U. S. Attorney Christie stated that the Federal Government has to lead the way in providing resources to communities and that he was encouraged by the Justice Department's response." Christie noted that the main focus of his agency will be the prevention of domestic terrorism. Acknowledging the inconsistency in information flow between federal law enforcement agencies and state and local law enforcement agencies, he pledged that his office will work with New Jersey communities to ensure that the information flow is "consistent and seamless."
New Jersey Governor James McGreevey Named "Mayor of the Year" by New Jersey Mayors
At the closing ceremony of the New Jersey Conference of Mayors 39th Annual Meeting, New Jersey Governor and former Mayor of Woodbridge James McGreevey was recognized as the organization's "Mayor of the Year."
Developer Donald Trump and NJCM Executive Director Donald Fauerbach presented the award to Governor McGreevey. In receiving the award April 19, McGreevey said, "I accept this award on behalf of all the mayors in New Jersey who've supported me throughout my years as mayor of Woodbridge and now as Governor of New Jersey. I accept this award on behalf of each of you. This is a great honor." In concluding his remarks, McGreevey stated that the NJCM is a "great organization, where I have made great friends and as Governor I will continue to work with you to make the cities in New Jersey great places."
NJCM Elect Officers
At the conclusion of the conference, the gavel was passed from former Woodbridge Mayor and NJ Governor James McGreevey to Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters. NJCM members also elected Tinton Falls Mayor Ann McNamara as 1st Vice President, Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky as 2nd Vice President, Newark Mayor Sharpe James as 3rd Vice President, and Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer as Vice President, Treasurer.