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Police get grant for portable cameras

The Suffolk Police Department received a grant earlier this month to purchase portable event security cameras.

The $44,197 grant was announced Oct. 13 by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe as part of a $6.1 million package of homeland security-related grant awards throughout the state. The funds come from various federal grant programs and will be administered by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, according to a state press release.

Maj. J.D. Buie of the Suffolk Police Department said the department hopes to purchase about five of the cameras with the grant. The cameras would be used for special public events, such as Peanut Fest and parade atmospheres, Buie said.

“You can put them in place, and all five cameras can be monitored by one police officer,” Buie said. “It cuts back on manpower issues.”

Buie added that “if something, God forbid, were to happen, it does provide evidentiary value.”

The grant requires no local match, Buie said. The cameras are meant to be shared with adjoining law enforcement agencies when they need them.

McAuliffe praised the grant awards and the first responders who will be assisted in their duties with the equipment purchased with them.

“Virginia’s local first responders have been called upon time and again to respond to natural and manmade events impacting our commonwealth,” McAuliffe stated in the press release. “These brave men and women have stepped up to protect their fellow Virginians when tornadoes ripped across Virginia in February 2016, when Hurricane Matthew caused massive flooding in Hampton Roads last October, and most recently when civil unrest spawned violence and tragedy in Charlottesville. The strategic investment of these federal homeland security grants will fund vital projects to enhance Virginia’s strength and resilience against all threats.”

“The inclusive and detailed grant review process, taking into account stakeholder expertise to understand the security needs facing communities across the Commonwealth, will allow us to use our limited grant funds to support the most critical needs facing our first responders,” said Brian Moran, secretary of public safety and homeland security.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management received 139 grant requests totaling more than $12 million to compete for the competitive portion of these federal funds. Sixty-six projects were awarded a total of $2.5 million from competitive State Homeland Security Program funds. The Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center at Old Dominion University manages the peer-review process conducted by Virginia’s public safety stakeholders for competitive grants and scores proposals based upon benefit-cost ratios.

As requested by the public safety stakeholders, an additional $2.6 million was allocated in non-competitive grants from this year’s State Homeland Security Program to fund 29 projects sustaining 12 hazardous materials teams, seven technical rescue teams, four incident management teams, four Virginia radio communications caches and the Virginia Fusion Center.

Lastly, $1 million was awarded to the Hampton Roads Urban Area Security Initiative to address the unique needs of this high-threat, high-density urban area. An additional $75,000 was awarded to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to allow hardening and other physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations located within Hampton Roads and recognized to be at an increased risk of terrorist attack.