By Adam Swift
Last week, the Boston City Council voted to accept a $13.3 million anti-terrorism grant that the previous council had narrowly voted against accepting.
The grant will impact surrounding communities, including Chelsea, Revere, Everett, and Winthrop, who are all part of the Metro Boston Homeland Security Region.
The grant from the Department of Homeland Security is designed to provide planning exercises, training, operational needs, and response to terrorism threats, including biological, chemical, nuclear, and explosive incidents.
The funding was reintroduced by Mayor Michelle Wu several weeks ago and the council initially voted to send the request to committee.
But Councilor Ed Flynn put the request forward for a vote at last week’s council meeting. Flynn noted that other communities in the homeland security region, including Chelsea and Quincy, are dependent on the money and that the council should not delay the vote.
Following last December’s 6-6 vote that failed to accept the grant, a number of first responders, politicians, and other bodies urged the council to accept the $13.3 million grant.
Congressman Jake Auchincloss sent a letter to the council and Council President Ruthzee Louijeune urging them to accept the grant. He stated that the Israel-Hamas war has heightened the region’s need for anti-terrorism funding as reports of anti-semitism are on the rise.
Earlier this year, Chelsea City Council President Norieliz DeJesus and several other councilors introduced a late motion requesting that the Boston City Council accept the grant funding, however, that motion did not move to a vote.
In the resolution, the councilors noted that Chelse typically receives approximately $400,000 per year in funding from the grant, which in the past has helped fund the purchase of ballistic shields, cameras, maritime equipment, radios, trainings and a firearm trailer.
The decision to block the funding drew widespread criticism, including from then-Boston City Council President Ed Flynn, the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association, Boston Firefighters IAFF Local 718, the Professional Firefighters Association of Massachusetts, Representative Jake Auchincloss (who represents Brookline), the Boston Globe Editorial Board, the Boston Chamber of Commerce, and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the resolution further stated. It added that the decision also drew criticism from the Massachusetts Legislature, with State Senators Nick Collins (D-Boston) and Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) introducing bipartisan legislation to strip local elected bodies of their authority to approve public safety grants.
Chelsea City Manager Fidel Maltez said the annual funding is a tremendous support for the city, particularly in its emergency response, emergency management, and public safety infrastructure.
With this round of funding, Maltez said the focus of the police and emergency management departments would be to increase the amount of surveillance they have available around the city, particularly related to street cameras.