Roddey deems security worth the cost |

Roddey deems security worth the cost

In Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey’s 2004 budget, the proposed Department of Homeland Security is the exception to the rule.

Although the remainder of the budget takes great pains — mostly at the row officers’ expense — to slim down county spending, the proposed homeland-security department has little, if anything, to do with money, said county Manager Bob Webb.

In his budget address Tuesday night, Roddey said the new department could make getting some federal grants for the county much easier.

The department’s $150,000 budget would go entirely toward salaries and benefits for a few employees, although the number of employees hasn’t been determined yet, Webb said.

He said the department’s director would be responsible for pursuing grants, conducting training sessions and acting as a primary supervisor for county police, emergency management, the jail and the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.

“It is a tremendous challenge to be prepared for natural disasters and terrorism. … The office (was proposed) based on recommendations from the state and federal governments to make certain we are prepared within the county,” Webb said.

The emergency-management department, run by Director Bob Full, now coordinates disaster plans for the county. Full also has a major role in the region’s disaster-response plans.

County Council President Rick Schwartz questioned why Roddey would want to put another director over Full, rather than expanding Full’s role.

“If you’re going to consolidate and save money, you should do it in every department,” said Schwartz, D-Plum.

For the existing county departments, little change would take place.

When Webb first recommended creating a homeland-security department in his Sunset Review Report on June 30, he said the “unique character” of each of the current departments should be preserved.

Webb said the homeland-security director would coordinate the common public-safety missions of those departments. The new department, for example, could integrate communications and computer systems for police and emergency management, helping to ensure that communication lines wouldn’t break down if a disaster occurred.

County Councilman Vince Gastgeb said that including county jail and the Shuman center into the proposed homeland-security department would help crime prevention. If one person would oversaw both the capture and treatment of offenders, recidivism could be reduced, the councilman said.

Gasteb, R-Bethel Park, said that having one director to oversee all the departments probably would reduce some duplicated services and, therefore, save the county money.

The decision to create a homeland-security department ultimately is up to County Council.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.