Homeland security grants at work protecting pumpkin festivals, Easter egg hunts and spring training games

By SB Anderson

imageA portion of the billions in federal grants to local governments to bolster national security has instead gone toward specious investments with little or no impact on national security protection, a Senate investigation released today found.

Subsidized military equipment was used to patrol a pumpkin festival in New Hampshire and at an Easter egg hunt in California, Funds were used  for surveillance equipment at a spring training facility in Arizona and for a “zombie apocalypse” demonstration at a counter-terrorism summit at a California resort.

The take on it from the Los Angeles Times: “The study found that some cities and towns had created implausible attack scenarios to win federal grants, and had scrambled at the end of each fiscal year to buy extra, unnecessary gadgets to spend excess cash.”

The senator who commissioned the study said the Department of Homeland Security “has been unable to establish goals or metrics to ensure that funds were used to make Americans safe, and cannot accurately measure how much safer we are today after spending $35 billion.”

If lawmakers who approved the program a decade ago could have peered in to the future, “We would have been frustrated to learn that limited federal resources were now subsidizing the purchase of low-priority items like an armored vehicles to protect festivals in rural New Hampshire, procure an underwater robot in Ohio and to pay for first responder attendance at a five-day spa junket that featured a display of tactical prowess in the face of a “zombie apocalypse,”  Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says in a release from his office. 

Among the cities and regions examined:

  • Arizona: Phoenix and Tucson 
  • California: Bakersfield, Oxnard, Riverside, Sacramento, and San Diego 
  • Colorado: Denver 
  • Indiana: Indianapolis 
  • Louisiana: Baton Rouge and New Orleans 
  • Minnesota: Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) 
  • Ohio: Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo 
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City and Tulsa 
  • National Capital Region which includes the District of Columbia and parts of Virginia and Maryland.

Full Report (PDF)