By Laura Figueroa
New York City, Long Island and Westchester will receive $22 million more in federal funding this year from the Department of Homeland Security for counterterrorism and disaster preparedness programs, according to figures obtained by Newsday and confirmed by Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
They will receive a combined $174.3 million this year -- a 15 percent increase from last year -- to spend on equipment and training as part of the federal Urban Areas Security Initiatives grants given to 31 "high-threat, high-density" metropolitan areas each year.
New York State will receive $66.7 million in federal funding, under the State Homeland Security Grant Program, an $11 million increase from last year, according to federal figures.
King, chairman of the House Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, called the increases a "victory" as other states and cities including Houston, San Diego and Newark have dealt with 40 percent cuts in grant funding.
"It's a recognition that New York City and Long Island are the number one terrorist target in the country and we need this money to keep coming in," King said. "The bad side is, we're the number one terrorist target . . . it's not an accolade anyone wants."
More than $40 billion in homeland security grants have been distributed to states and cities since the 9/11 attacks, but funding has also decreased over the past five years from $1.7 billion in 2008 to $831 million in 2012.
In April, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate's homeland security committee that the Obama administration would like to consolidate the distribution of the nine separate grants delivered to states and cities under one program.
"These grants were written at an earlier stage in our understanding of homeland security and what capacity we had around the country," Napolitano said during her testimony. "Our understanding and our capacity is much different 10 years later, and it's time to reform the grant programs to match that."
While the share of money allocated to each county has not yet been released, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said any additional funds directed to the county would be used to "assist in hardening critical infrastructure, plan development and training initiatives that help secure our county and country."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the increase in funding would help the county purchase additional detection equipment and Urban Search and Rescue equipment "as well as provide resources for more interagency training drills and exercises."
"Equipment and trainings are our biggest assets we have to protect our residents," Bellone said.