$12.2 Million DHS Grant Announced for Phoenix, Other Valley Cities

Phoenix is expected to receive $2.9 million in federal homeland security funding, money that will be spent on regional preparations in the event of a terrorist strike.

Representatives from Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Glendale will get the lion's share of about $12.2 million in federal funds earmarked for the Valley as one of the nation's 30 Urban Area Security Initiative participants.

Phoenix received similar grant funding in 2003, said Marcus Aurelius, the city's emergency management coordinator.

City officials will spend the money on equipment and training.

"Under this program, everything is shared regionally," Aurelius said. "We'll be focusing on rapid-response teams, exercises and that kind of thing."

The City Council has yet to approve receipt of the funds. Under the federal program, the city pays for the equipment and training costs upfront and then is reimbursed via the grants.

Other Valley cities are making sure that they, too, are prepared.

In Chandler, where officials received $2.2 million, most of the money will go to purchase and outfit a heavy rescue vehicle about the size of a beer delivery truck. Cost: $521,517.

Also on Chandler's homeland security tab is more than $200,000 worth of high-tech equipment for defusing bombs, and $10,000 in decontamination tools.

The rest of the federal money will pay for other smaller equipment and training.

Chandler Fire Chief Jim Roxburgh said cities participating in the homeland security grants must train 12-person teams of police officers and firefighters to respond anywhere in Maricopa County.

The rapid-response teams will be trained and equipped to serve 10,000 square miles of populated land within Maricopa County, said Aurelius, who is overseeing the regional effort.

The federal government has doled out more than $8.2 billion in grants to states and communities to bolster their ability to prevent and respond to terrorism locally.

About $1.4 billion of that has been allocated through urban security grants to help pay for specialized equipment, training, planning and exercises needed in the nation's larger urban areas.

Aurelius said Valley cities are known for their regional cooperation, but the rapid-response teams recommended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are a practical way of solving coordination and communication problems.