The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced an award of $33.7 million to fund equipment and training for first responders across the nation, as a part of the fiscal year 2007 Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program (CECAP).
Since the program's inception in 2005, DHS has provided roughly 5,800 direct assistance awards - worth more than $103 million - for all hazards in smaller jurisdictions nationwide.
"Local police and emergency personnel are the first on the scene of any incident and often the cause is not immediately known," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "This direct funding equips first responders with technology and training to complement local resources and helps communities develop tools and capabilities that they may not otherwise be able to afford."
Eligibility for CCEDAP is limited to law enforcement and other emergency responder agencies with specific financial and capability needs in five categories: personal protective equipment; thermal imaging, night vision and video surveillance tools; chemical and biological detection tools; information technology and risk management tools; and interoperable communications equipment.
CEDAP equipment awards are integrated with state planning processes for regional response and asset distribution. Each state's administrative agency has the opportunity to review applications submitted by first responder organizations within their state to ensure that equipment requests are consistent with their state homeland strategy.
Applications were accepted from April 25 to June 29, 2007 through the Responder Knowledge Base web site www.rkb.mipt.org.
The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office has recently received a grant reward through the CEDAP. Through the CEDAP agencies receive pieces of new equipment directly from CEDAP rather than the monies with which the equipment would be purchased.
The equipment received from CEDAP is a TacSight Thermal imager camera, similar to the thermal imagers used by the fire service, but is built specifically for law enforcement needs. The kit with all of its contents sells for around $18,000. Through the CEDAP program the Cherokee County Sheriff's office received this equipment and the training on the equipment free of charge.
The addition of the Thermal imager camera will allow the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office to broaden its capabilities and to enhance responses to other existing areas. The thermal imager is a device that "sees" heat. This is useful in low and no light environments as well as full light environments. Many techniques new techniques as well as legal implications of using the thermal imager were part of the training.
The thermal imager has been recognized by the Supreme Court to be an acceptable tool for law enforcement for: Search and Rescue, Officer Safety, Fugitive Apprehension, Vehicle Pursuits, Structure Profiles, Vehicle Profiles, Disturbed Surfaces, Surveillance and Accident Investigation.