Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday: Now Safe From Natural Disasters

Anyone have trouble finding a parking spot because of that 40-foot long tractor trailer parked in the Target parking lot in east Richardson on Black Friday? That was the Richardson Police Department's new "mobile command unit". The police say "it provides a deterrent to crime." I'm sure it does, but is it a cost-effective way to do that? The police say it will be used in response to natural disasters and SWAT operations. I'm sure it will, if R-town ever suffers a hurricane or terrorist strike.

After the jump, why this 40-foot long tractor trailer is in Richardson and not, say, in a city much more likely to be struck by terrorists?

The key to this new equipment for the Richardson Police can be found in the last sentence of Ann Marie Shambaugh's story in NeighborsGo.

"The $314,059 mobile command unit received full funding through a Justice Assistance Grant and an Urban Area Security Initiative Grant."

In other words, Richardson couldn't say no to free money. And why is free money being sprinkled on Richardson? Because Congressmen aren't about to allow money to be spent where it's most effective, unless other money is spent in their own districts, where it's not. Anyone who has been following Congressional funding for anti-terrorism has long been aware of the wastefulness of much of that spending. Anne Applebaum, in an article in Slate, cites a few examples:

"the $63,000 decontamination unit in rural Washington, where no one was trained to use it; more biochemical suits for Grand Forks County, N.D., than the town has police officers to wear them; and $557,400 worth of rescue and communications equipment apparently needed for some 1,500 residents of the town of North Pole, Alaska."
And to that you can now add a $314,059 mobile command unit for Richardson, Texas, that police plan to deploy "at several community events, including National Night Out, the Wildflower! Festival and Family Fourth Celebration."

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