New funding helps security

Sidney Herald-Leader

Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced last week that more than $650,000 is headed to the Treasure State from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help protect Montana's citizens and communities.

The funding will boost the Buffer Zone Protection Program and the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program.

The Buffer Zone Protection Program helps state and local high-priority critical infrastructure such as chemical facilities, financial institutions, electric power plants, stadiums and dams. DHS will release $400,000 for Montana for this purpose.

As a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Tester helped create the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program in 2007. In 2002, Baucus helped launch the Northern Tier Interoperability Consortium after a meeting of law enforcement agencies in Havre.

Recent disasters have demonstrated first responders from all over the state and across all jurisdictional boundaries need to be able to communicate with one another. This initiative provides governance, planning, training and exercise and equipment funding to states, local and tribal governments to improve interoperable communications in collective response to natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other disasters. DHS will release $242,875 for Montana for this purpose.

"These dollars are about being prepared and keeping Montanans safe," said Baucus, the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. "This federal funding will provide smart investment for the Big Sky State, helping to create and sustain good paying jobs, help steer Montana out of this economic downturn, and ensure our first responders have the tools and equipment they need to get the job done and get back to their families safely."

"This is good news for Montana," said Tester, who also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. "First responders like police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect the public, and this funding will help them do their jobs more effectively.