D.C. at Low Risk Of Attack, Says Federal Agency

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By Mary Beth Sheridan and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 2, 2006

The Department of Homeland Security has ranked the District in a low-risk category of terrorist attack or catastrophe, putting it in the bottom 25 percent of U.S. states and territories, as part of a decision that will cost the city millions in anti-terror funds, according to city and federal officials.

The news came as irate officials from New York and Washington demanded explanations for why the department slashed funds in a separate urban anti-terrorism program by 40 percent for the metropolitan areas hit hardest by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out these are two cities still at risk," said D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey.

Homeland Security officials said the District had far fewer potential targets than the larger jurisdictions, such as California, it competed against. They said the decisions came after an elaborate process aimed at fairly dividing anti-terror funds.

"From a risk perspective, even with all the things that the District of Columbia has versus a New York or a Florida or a California, it's a much different case," said Tracy A. Henke, assistant secretary for grants and training at DHS.

The department adopted new, risk-based procedures this year to divide $1.7 billion in 2006 anti-terror funding for states and cities. Officials announced Wednesday that under the biggest program -- involving urban areas -- the capital region's allocation of about $77 million last year would be cut to $46.5 million.

D.C. officials, stunned to lose so much money, then got another jolt: Under a smaller program, tailored for states, the District's grant shrank to $4.3 million, from $9.2 million last year. City officials had expected a reduction because funding for the entire program had been halved. But they were shocked by the department's rationale.

"They said relative to the other states, the District is not high risk," said Edward D. Reiskin, D.C. deputy mayor for public safety. "It was pretty surprising."

Ramsey expressed even more outrage, noting that the District received among the smallest allocations in the country.

"Are you going to tell me Rhode Island should get more money than the District of Columbia?" the chief sputtered in an interview on Washington Post Radio.

Although the District is home to the White House, the Capitol, FBI headquarters and many national monuments, it received a smaller state grant than Montana, Hawaii and Utah. Each of them received $4.5 million, as did Rhode Island.

Henke said the nation's capital ranked in the lowest 25 percent of states and territories in part because it competes with much larger jurisdictions, which have much higher numbers of "critical infrastructure" targets.


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