Senator Jon Tester today announced new resources for strong security along Montana's northern border.
The Department of Homeland Security will direct nearly $800,000 to the state for "Operation Stonegarden," an initiative to strengthen coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies along the nation's borders. The funding is used for personnel costs as well as equipment such as radios, fuel, vehicles and surveillance equipment.
Tester, a member of the Senate's Homeland Security and Appropriations Committees, has long called for better coordination between federal and local law enforcement to secure the Northern Border. He ensured that the border security grants would be directed to the country's northern border as well as the southern border.
"Montana's border stretches nearly 550 miles and must remain secure," Tester said. "While the southern border deserves a good portion of these resources, Montana's long border cannot be overlooked. Securing our border presents its own challenges, and I'll ensure that we don't take our eye off the ball."
Tester specifically questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about the distribution of Stonegarden grants at a Senate hearing last year after the Administration proposed to restrict these funds only to the southern border.
"Would there be Stonegarden grants available to the northern border?" Tester asked.
"Yes, there are Stonegarden monies available, Senator," Napolitano answered.
"Can I get your assurance that when 2012 comes around, there will be dollars, whether Stonegarden or some other grant, to develop partnerships with local law enforcement agencies up on the northern border?" Tester asked.
"It is fair to say that through Stonegarden or other grants, there will be dollars available," Napolitano agreed, while citing that fewer resources would be available in 2012 due to budget cuts in the House of Representatives.
Montana received $1.2 million for border security from Operation Stonegarden in 2011.
The funds announced today will be allocated to Blaine, Flathead, Glacier, Hill, Lincoln, Phillips and Valley Counties, as well as the Blackfeet Nation.