By Lois Pilant Grossman
magine a government assistance program that bypasses the bureaucracy and awards state-of-the-art equipment to local law enforcement agencies at no cost and with a minimum of paperwork. It’s called CEDAP, for Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program, and it puts specialized commercial equipment directly into the hands of smaller jurisdictions.
CEDAP is a direct assistance program, not a grant, and was created to fill the gaps left by other grant programs. The Urban Areas Security Initiative, for example, is directed toward agencies in large urban areas, where funding is based on risk, threat, and the technology needed to protect local or critical infrastructure. The State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) allocates funds to the states, which then distributes them to individual agencies, departments and jurisdictions based on established criteria. CEDAP complements these programs by targeting different applicants and providing resources that will enable and enhance a regional response and mutual aid.
The program was created by Congress as part of the assistance offered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Grants and Training. The program recognizes that terrorism often extends beyond major metropolitan areas and that smaller, outlying communities may be vulnerable in such areas as transportation infrastructure, agriculture, water supplies, power grids, pipelines, or nearby nuclear power plants. The impetus for the CEDAP program was to get equipment that can be used for homeland security into the hands of the agencies that police these areas, which often are also the jurisdictions that cannot otherwise afford to purchase state-of-the-art technologies.
Since its inception, DHS has stressed regional response, mutual aid, and the need for interoperability. CEDAP builds on this philosophy by awarding equipment that can be used for communications interoperability, information sharing, and chemical detection. It also provides sensor devices and personal protective equipment. The equipment comes through a variety of sources, including the DHS Prepositioned Equipment Program and the Office of National Drug Control Policy Technology Transfer Program.
“The folks at CEDAP actually got it right,” said Chief Gary Smith of the Northfield, Minnesota, Police Department. “They found items that are important from a law enforcement perspective.”
The Northfield Police Department polices a small community of 20,000 just south of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Northfield is a designated collection point for mass inoculation and evacuation. It has several colleges and universities and boasts regular visits from high-ranking government officials—so many that it has its own dignitary protection program. Even King Harald V of Norway pays an annual visit to this predominantly Scandinavian community.
“We’re an unusual community in that you wouldn’t expect us to have all these things happening,” Smith said. “The CEDAP program has been great for us because we have the demand for these technologies, but not the dollars. My budget is real bare bones right now, so the equipment we get from CEDAP puts us five to 10 years ahead of the game. I’m very enthusiastic about this program. The people who created it seem to give due consideration to those who have a real need. I give all the kudos to whoever is working there because they’ve got it figured out. It really works.”
Fast, Easy, Direct, and User-Friendly
CEDAP’s hallmark is that it is userfriendly. The application process is all online, and the only state involvement concerns CEDAP’s verification that any equipment awarded integrates with the state’s regional response plans. Equipment is transferred directly to the agency, and there are no matching costs. CEDAP covers everything, including travel and training.
In keeping with DHS’s focus on regional response, applicants do have to show in their application how they will use the equipment in a multiagency response. Michael Parker is director of the Haralson County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) in Buchanan, Georgia. He works closely with the local fire chief and emergency communication agencies, not just in response planning but in sharing equipment. Most of the EMA’s equipment has been donated or purchased at bargain basement prices: two boats were donated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; a four-wheel-drive vehicle came from the U.S. Air Force; a mobile support unit was purchased for $1 from a neighboring city. Called Echo, for Emergency Communication and Hazardous Operations, it houses the county’s field communication equipment and enables dispatchers to manage on-site communications at incidents that require a multiagency response. It has been used at least 15 times during special events and disasters since it went into service in March 2006.
Even with donations and fire sale prices, Parker’s limited annual budget of $56,600 could never cover the high cost of state-ofthe-art equipment, which made CEDAP’s award of an Incident Commander’s Radio Interface (ICRI) a huge gain for the county. Haralson County’s public safety agencies operate on VHF, UHF, and 800-megahertz communications networks, which meant no interoperability during large-scale incidents. The ICRI system is a portable gateway that allows everyone to use their own equipment and command staff to monitor radio traffic specific to the incident.
Haralson County, in northeast Georgia, is small and sparsely populated—262 square miles and 30,000 people. Its public safety contingent includes three police departments, one sheriff’s office, the U.S. marshal’s office, three fire departments, and one ambulance service. It has two busy state highways, an interstate highway, and two busy rail lines, all of which are major transportation arteries. It also has one of the largest fuel storage facilities in the southeast, which links directly to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, 50 miles away. It is the kind of jurisdiction CEDAP was created to support: the loss of its critical infrastructures after a terrorist attack could have dramatic and far-reaching effects, and it has areas that could provide a convenient screen for terrorist training or criminal operations that support terrorist activities.
How to Apply
CEDAP will accept the next round of applications in the first quarter of 2007. Applying is easy, especially when compared to a typical grant application. The application is available at www.rkb.mipt.org and is an easy-to-use form with drop-down menus, check boxes, and questions requiring short written answers. The application asks for information about the following elements:
- Agency and jurisdiction
- High-value targets or critical infrastructure in the area
- Recently completed structure vulnerability assessments
- The agency’s homeland security plan
- Other assistance the jurisdiction receives from federal or state sources
Applicants should visit the Web site to determine if they meet eligibility criteria. They should study the application, review the questions with colleagues, and ask questions of the CEDAP program office. They also should study the list of available equipment, which is all state-of-the-art, commercial, and off-the-shelf. The list was compiled in a joint effort by staff from the DHS Office of Grants and Training and leaders of the public safety community, including sheriffs, chiefs of police, fire chiefs, and line responders. Items included in the CEDAP equipment catalog were also selected for their high level of technical and operational performance.
After an application is submitted online, it is reviewed by the state administrative agency and the state technology representative to ensure consistency with the state’s homeland security strategy. The U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, helps DHS administer the program, and it ranks and rates the applications for DHS.
Approved applicants will be notified immediately, while those who are not approved will be encouraged to reapply during the next open application period. Equipment is then delivered directly to the selected agencies by the U.S. Army, which also provides hands-on training and technical assistance.
CEDAP recipients must agree to participate in several follow-up evaluations and reports. Semiannual evaluations to ascertain the level of use and applicability of the equipment transferred will be conducted by outside sources. These reviews and evaluations will request user feedback to identify best practices and lessons about the CEDAP process, all of which will help to improve the CEDAP program, the process it uses, and equipment offerings.
To access the application online, go to www.rkb.mipt.org and log in. Select Search RKB, then find the link for CEDAP under the major programs heading. The CEDAP page has links to program information and the CEDAP catalog. An application worksheet and the application itself are only available on the site during open application periods.
Prospective applicants should direct questions to the Office of Grants and Training Centralized Scheduling and Information Desk at 800-368-6498. If the CSID representative cannot answer your question, your call may be routed to the agent at Fort Huachuca, which can be reached directly by calling 866-659-9170. ■