Big thanks to Robert Gonzalez for this detailed write-up! If you want to know more about Robert check out his info here.
Let's talk about Homeland Security Grants...yay?
Meeting in question: 5/31 Sac City Council
Item in question:
Item 6 - Recommendation for City Council: to authorize $230,000 in grant funding from the State Homeland Security Grant Program (agenda doc linked here)
The State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) is a pool of money funded by the California and Federal governments for cities to use to protect against, prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist acts.
The resolution was brought forward to the City Council by the Sacramento City Fire Department, and asked them to adopt a resolution authorizing the total grant award of $230,550 to purchase an Unmanned Maritime System and hazmat protection monitors. The Fire Department sees this funding as a critical stepping stone to enhancing their communication, Emergency medical response, and hazmat programs.
This funding will also upgrade and replace a portion of outdated equipment from the Fire Department with newly updated equipment. The exact equipment was not mentioned in the recommendation letter however the Fire Department must adhere to all Federal and State guidelines that are attached to the funds in terms of acquiring goods and services. All fund usage on equipment must meet the SHSGP funding criteria.
In order for the City of Sacramento to receive this funding, it must pass with a majority vote of City Council members.
On May 31st, the Sacramento city council voted in favor (8-0) of the consent calendar in which included the approval of the State Homeland Security Grant.
So, why include coverage of this item in our blog?
Well, we just thought it was worth pointing out how strange it is that the Fire Department is requesting funding for purchasing an "Unmanned Maritime System"...why are we supporting spending large amounts of money to provide military equipment to the Fire Department? Especially when that equipment is made to complete tasks that seem wildly unrelated to the duties of the Fire Department?
According to a NATO fact sheet regarding Maritime Unmanned Systems (MUS) from 2020 (linked here):
The use of unmanned systems is a game changer in maritime technology. They will deliver benefits across a broad range of missions, such as the detection and clearing of mines, the monitoring and protection of sea lines of communication and underwater cables, maritime situational awareness, and finding and tracking submarines.
To sum up, this seems like more totally unnecessary militarization of systems in our society that ostensibly exist to keep us safe.