Issue Position: Protecting Our Homeland - First Responders Funding
September 11th illustrated the important role that first responders -- firemen, health professionals, and police - play in our homeland security efforts. They are the front lines in any terrorist attack, and they need to get sufficient funds to keep us safe at home. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have been a strong supporter of programs that support the efforts of our first responders.
For instance, I am very supportive of the Assistance to Firefighters Program, also known as the FIRE Act grant program. This program, administered by the U.S. Fire Administration , a directorate within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), provides federal grants directly to local fire departments across the country to help address a variety of needs.
These grants are used for the certification of fire inspectors, the funding of emergency medical services provided by fire departments, and the acquisition of additional firefighting vehicles and firefighting equipment, including communications and monitoring devices. The Assistance to Firefighters Program is currently providing an unprecedented level of direct federal financial assistance to local fire departments. I will continue to support this important program through the Appropriations process.
Additionally, I will continue to be a strong supporter of the COPS (Community Oriented Police Services) program. Since 1995, the COPS program has received more than $6 billion in funding and the Department of Justice estimates it has resulted in the hiring of more than 100,000 new police officers. Wisconsin has already received more than $70.2 million of these funds, the equivalent of more than one thousand officers on the streets. These new officers are indispensable to making our communities safer. In addition to hiring more police officers, this funding has also been used to train former military personnel for law enforcement careers and to purchase enhanced technology, such as onboard computers in vehicles that will increase the amount of time that officers can be on the beat.