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Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 12:09pm

State Security Bolstered Since Sept. 11

In the decade since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government has spent nearly a half billion dollars to upgrade the state’s protection.  That money has been spent in obvious, and not so obvious ways.  

There are metal detectors and X-ray machines at government buildings.  But there are also new search-and-rescue teams Georgia didn't have before 9-11.       

The director of Georgia's Emergency Management Agency, Charley English, says money has gone to other specialized projects.
“Because of the anthrax problems we developed hazardous material teams at the local level.  And we tried to also enhance law enforcement’s capability with specialized equipment and techniques.”  

On the coast, Robert Morris with the Georgia Ports Authority says $25 million has gone to a myriad of items.

“Intrusion detection systems, new fencing, new cameras, new police officers, and a brand-new identification system. That’s all new and very positive.”

GEMA says 80 percent of the federal money Georgia gets annually for homeland security goes to local governments.  The other 20 percent to state agencies like the Ports. 

Georgia's Public Health department has received approximately $373 million in funding from the federal government for the purpose of improving both public health preparedness as well as healthcare community preparedness. Officials say the state has put that money to good use.

Since 9-11, they say more than 100 suspicious substances have been successfully tested by the Georgia Public Health Laboratory. Public health officials say their ability to implement large scale vaccination campaigns has seen great improvement. And Public Health and its associated healthcare community partners have effectively responded to numerous events which have impacted the health and safety of persons within Georgia.

GEMA says a bulk of money spent the first few years was on developing new training and buying equipment statewide.  Now, more goes toward maintaining safety infrastructure.