Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 31, 2006

Alaska town wastes homeland security funds on cameras

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,State and Local HLS — by Christian Beckner on March 31, 2006

NPR interviewed two residents of Dillingham, Alaska yesterday about the town’s purchase of 80 surveillance cameras with homeland security grant funds – one for every 30 residents of the town of 2,400 people. The interview contains many laughable statements by the city council member who defends the purchase, based on the fact that in the past 10-15 years, “three people have frozen to death” in areas now illuminated by cameras and says that in a town of that size, that’s a real tragedy. He later defends the town’s risk profile by noting that the Japanese parachuted bombs into Alaska during World War II.

The interviewer, Michele Norris, then makes an equally laughable attempt to be “fair and balanced” in the interview with this question to the town resident who is against the cameras:

“When you look at some of what happened in the subway bombings in London…now Dillingham is a long way away from London and a very different community to be sure, but when you look at what happened there and how police were able to make arrests fairly quickly because of the cameras that were installed all throughout the city of London, does that make you rethink that maybe in the rare event that something might happen there in Dillingham, then that might be a good idea?”

I’m all for media objectivity, but this is one instance there’s no reason why a journalist should be objective. This spending is so obviously wasteful that it deserves to be widely ridiculed and criticized. This story provides another data point in support of DHS’s push to shift homeland security grant funds to risk-based allocations.

You can see near-live feeds from the cameras here.

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1 Comment »


Comment by William R. Cumming

April 2, 2006 @ 12:35 am

Was this a competitive grant? Or did it meet some preestablished standard?

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