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Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, first responders and emergency teams soon found out that they were ill-equipped to coordinate with one another. That realization prompted better organization among regional first responders.
The New London Port Area Marine Group (NLPAMG), a subcommittee of Sector Long Island Sound Area Maritime Security Committee and of Connecticut’s Region 4 Regional Emergency Planning Team, was formed when municipalities, tribes and private companies from southeastern Connecticut together secured millions of dollars in funding from DHS’ Port Security Grant Program (PSGP). The Washington Times reports that money from the grant has paid for surveillance cameras, fences at State Pier in New London and patrol boats for local police and fire departments.
NLPAMG, chartered in 2011, aims “to serve as a confederation of local public and private sector organizations sharing responsibility for protecting the New London port area and the surrounding marine transportation system from a wide range of natural and man-made hazards and risks,” according to Homelandsecuritynewswire.
In fiscal 2014, the PSGP administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued $100 million to port areas. Retired U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Scot Graham, now a port security specialist for the Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Long Island Sound, said the Coast Guard’s need for trained partners with proper equipment helped the port region obtained grants through the PSGP.
The Coast Guard’s Port for Long Island Sound is the largest operational field command in the country. “When it comes to risk, it’s a very challenging area. That’s where the port partners come in,” Graham said. “It’s not just security. It’s accidents, crime or natural disasters.”
Regional thinking when applying for the PSGP means assets secured through the funds are likely to be used to help solve regional problems. When the town of Waterford secured a $520,000 port security grant for a patrol boat and associated costs, it was considered a regional asset, said police chief Murray Pendleton, who also serves as co-chairman of the NLPAMG. When Groton Town police used a portion of a $433,000 federal grant to purchase a boat, funds were also allocated for dry suits, available for use by members of the NLPAMG. Police Capt. Steven Sinagra said whenever grant money is obtained, training to use the equipment purchased is also available to members of the group. This assures that different agencies are equally prepared to utilize equipment and respond to emergencies, he said.