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July 22, 2014

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Funding cut jeopardizes future of Las Vegas anti-terrorism center

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Jackie Valley

Officials in the analytics section of the Southern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center monitor information via police dispatches, Internet activity and news stations on New Year’s Eve.

Las Vegas area officials are pushing the federal government to reconsider a decision that could cost Clark County $1.8 million in Homeland Security funding, effectively shuttering the region’s counter-terrorism center.

For years, Metro Police has received funding from the Department of Homeland Security to operate the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center.

Specifics about the center’s operations are secret, but it is generally responsible for preparing for, preventing and responding to potential terrorist activity in the Las Vegas Valley.

“We’re down to the area where it’s extremely dangerous. If we lose the remaining funding we have left, it’s a huge concern,” county Commissioner Steve Sisolak said. “I don’t know how we’re going to be able to make up that funding...The potential future of the center is in jeopardy.”

The amount of federal funding the center receives, which accounts for the majority of its budget, has dropped from a high of $9 million in 2008 to a low of $1.8 million last year.

The funding is allocated to cities based on a formula that weighs the threat of an attack, a city’s vulnerability and the potential consequences of an attack.

Las Vegas fell three spots in this year’s rankings, from 30 to 33, which will likely result in it receiving no funding.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, local leaders argue that the funding formula didn’t adequately account for the 40 million tourists who visit Las Vegas each year and the large number of high-profile events the city hosts.

“On one corner of the Strip we have more hotel rooms than most of the cities have in their entire jurisdiction. We have major special events — New Year’s Eve, the marathon, Electric Daisy Carnival, NASCAR,” said Commissioner Larry Brown. “It just doesn’t seem practical that Las Vegas as an international destination would not only be taken off the list but not moved up the list, especially in light of what happened in Boston.”

Nevada’s Congressional delegation has also been engaged to lobby for the funding, with Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Dina Titus writing letters to Napolitano asking for more information to justify Las Vegas’s drop in the rankings.

In his letter, Reid wrote that Las Vegas would be at a “significant disadvantage in preparedness, response and recovery capabilities” without the Homeland Security funds.

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  1. Thank you, GOP, for another HUGE risk to public safety. Air traffic controllers, homeland security, all for what???

    I hope people take a good look at what this sequester has cost the country and vote appropriately to oust these greedy, self-centered, obtuse "representatives" of the "people," elected to protect this country and its citizens.

  2. Metro surely has a command center -- what exactly does this specialized anti-terrorism center provide that a single command center can't?

  3. My understanding is that this money was a grant and was not intended to fund this center in perpetuity year in year out. Nevada should have come up with a plan for funding.

  4. @chuck333
    The administration can only do what it can PASS through Congress. The whole purpose of the sequester was to eliminate funding and cut cut cut...not giving a damn about safety and the protection of ANYONE.

    The GOP is out of control and run by mental midgets who can't see past their greedy big noses. They have demonstrated over and over again how clueless they are about women, (female anatomy in particular); How they worship big corporations and profits at any human cost; and, their ability to keep from paying taxes through loopholes they create to perserve their personal and corporate wealth.

    The GOP is going to suffer at the polls, as they are shooting themselves in the foot at every turn. (pun intended, but let's not even get started on their gun control debacles) They are archaic, stuck in the 19th Centtury, and will sell their souls to stick it to this administration. Why?

    If you don't think the root of the problem with them is racism, gender bias, and sexual orientation, plus anything else that goes against their interpretation of the Bible, as THEY define it, then you haven't read much about what they say in public and behind closed doors that gets leaked out. Or visited the South recently.

    Oh, did I mention they would cheat their own mothers, wives, and daughters to make sure they are kept in "their place" just like they feel that President Obama should be?

    My recent visits to the South have been proven to me that time travel is possible...backwards anyway.

    Very sad to see so many gun-toting, uninformed, confederate flag carriers parroting political slogans without a clue as to what they mean other than "bleeding heart hippies have ruined this country," and "ain't no one taking away my gun," plus pervasive use of the "N" word when referring to the President, his family, and everyone with dark skin.

    These statements from both the educated and uneducated alike. Just sickening prejudices that support the GOP.