Small Cities Feel Security Bite

Homeland Security
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"Smaller cities are in jeopardy as well as large because most of your, I believe I'm being correct, most of your military installations are close to smaller cities," said Mayor John Robert Smith, at his regular news conference Wednesday.

Smith revealed the added cost of security to Meridian since 9-11 has been running about $6,000 per week. Chief Adminstrative Officer Ken Storms explained.

"We've had employees called up to the guard and reserve units and activated and it creates overtime pay that we had to have," said Storms. "There's increased surveillance on some of our vulnerable areas. That increased surveillance required extra personnel to do that and extra time on the clock to cover those."

But manpower is only a portion of the local security effort.

"There is some equipment that we have received, ordered and received, through the fire department," Storms said. "There is some matching monies for some grants that we needed to get in order to do the type of protection for this area that we needed."

Storms said the city has been upgrading for years because of the possibility of natural disasters, but not at the current level.

"In earnest it really kicked in at 9-11 as we started seeing that there could be a real possibility and we wanted to be prepared for it," the CAO said.

"About $6,000 a week. Now is that a large hit?" asked the mayor. "It certainly doesn't compare to anything you'll see in large cities. But it's something you don't budget for."