Panel OKs Funding for Nevada Security Hub

Gov. Jim Gibbons and sheriffs of Nevada's two biggest counties have agreed on creation of an anti-terrorism "fusion center" in the state capital that lawmakers refused to fund during the 2007 session.

An announcement of the agreement with sheriffs of Washoe and
Clark counties came at a meeting Monday of the Finance Committee of
the Nevada Homeland Security Commission, where a recommendation on spending $18.1 million in federal grants for 2007 was approved.

Of that total, $7 million will go to three fusion centers, one each in Washoe and Clark counties and in Carson City. The state center in Carson will get about $605,000 of the total for two staff positions and related costs.

With the agreement in place, Gibbons will ask the Legislature's Interim Finance Committee for another $651,000 over two years in state funding for three more positions for the state hub. That's the amount he didn't get during the lawmakers' regular 2007 session.

Kamala Carmazzi, deputy chief of the state Division of Emergency Management, said agreement was reached with the sheriffs on establishing the three hubs once the responsibilities were made clear. The state hub will be responsible for the 15 rural counties and native tribal organizations.

Fusion hubs are intelligence-gathering systems intended to ensure information is shared among various law enforcement agencies at all levels of government.

The $7 million for the three hubs from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant funding for the upcoming federal fiscal year was the state's top priority.

The full Homeland Security Commission will consider the grant allocation recommendation when it meets Wednesday.

Gibbons has continued to push for funding of the Carson City fusion hub despite a report by congressional investigators questioning the effectiveness of the centers. Local law enforcement officials initially were critical of the effort, arguing that it might undermine a Las Vegas operation that has been in the works for two years.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)