The Obama administration has approved an immediate infusion of $18.5 million to guard New York City against the use of nuclear and radiological weapons by terrorists, Sen. Charles Schumer said Friday.
The NYPD is to receive $18.5 million out of a possible $20 million made available nationwide, the New York Democrat said.
The new cash comes from the federal "Securing the Cities" initiative, an anti-terror program launched in 2006 to protect high-risk metropolitan areas like New York with a ring of radiation detectors. The city in 2008 received $29 million in similar grants under the initiative.
"Hundreds if not thousands" of such devices have been distributed to police departments in the area, including Long Island, Connecticut and Westchester, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. According to him, local police agencies, with advice from the NYPD, are deploying the devices at numerous entry points and highways to the city.
Although the NYPD is getting virtually all of the funding sent to New York for the radiation detectors, the city has been sharing information with nearby police departments in Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to federal security officials.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly applauded Schumer's effort Friday, saying he did a "great job" in getting the money reinstated after the Department of Homeland Security sought to trim the funding from the federal budget last year. A DHS spokesman was unavailable for comment late Friday.
The threat of terrorists getting access to a nuclear device or radioactive material to make a "dirty bomb" has been a key concern of police and the federal government. The concern has grown, some experts say, because Pakistan has nuclear weapons and also has a significant number of al-Qaida supporters.
In the United States, the federal Domestic Nuclear Detection Office is responsible for setting up a system to detect any attempt to import or assemble nuclear or radiological materials. It is overseeing the disbursement of the money to New York.
On a related issue, Schumer said he continued to talk with the White House to get a special budget line item to cover the city's security costs for an accused 9/11 mastermind's trial in Manhattan, estimated to cost $216 million in the first year.