NEWS

A California County Shows How to Waste Homeland Security Grants

By Matthew Harwood

Just after President Barack Obama signed a $ 42.8 billion bill funding the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2010 on Wednesday, comes this report from California showing a prime example of how federal homeland security money gets foolishly misspent when it hits states and localities.

A few years back, Alameda County, California, spent $100,000 in homeland security grants for four improvised explosive device (IED) detecting "vapor tracers" for their public buses. But as ABC7 in San Francisco reports, there's been a few problems with the devices.

The bomb squad tells the I-Team the unit is too large to keep in a patrol car. Once on scene, it takes 20 minutes to warm up. But the biggest drawback is that an officer has to walk right up to a bomb for the vapor tracer to get a reading.

"Well, the danger is obvious," said Nelson. "If the device explodes you've injured or killed your deputy that's using the device."

With these design flaws, it isn't surprising to hear these devices haven't been touched in three years. It's also not surprising to discover that California discovered the county violated federal purchasing guidelines by not getting competitive bids for the IED detectors, a process created to ensure taxpayer money gets the best goods and services for the best possible price.

So what has Alameda County been using in place of the vapor tracers when it needs something to sniff out a bomb? These:


♦ Money in trash by ///nick\\\/Flickr

♦ Photo of bomb-sniffing dogs by Marianne O'Leary/Flickr

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