Huron officials have decided to join with the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Homeland Security Division, in a federal program called the Northern Border Initiative, to curb illegal immigration and crime.
About $2 million in Homeland Security grant funds have been awarded to support the initiative.
The initiative is a collaborative effort amongst federal, state and local entities along Ohio's international maritime border and the Lake Erie shoreline to protect Ohio's northern border.
Police Chief Randy Glovinsky supports Huron's participation in the federal program.
"This is something that we have to do because of the current situation in our southern border. The northern border has taken on a huge initiative," he said.
Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Henry Guzman said the initiative allows his division to seek to coordinate "state and local participation in the (initiative) for the purpose of detecting, deterring, preventing, preparing for, and involvement, to enhance the security and protection of Ohio's northern border."
He is happy to see local municipalities like Huron get on board with the federal program.
"Through Ohio's northern border, we are taking a very proactive approach in our Homeland Security and domestic preparedness efforts," he said.
Under the initiative code-named "Operation Stonegarden," states can use federal Homeland Security grant funding to support coordination of state and federal law enforcement agencies at the borders.
City council voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with the state agency stipulating that Huron emergency personnel will participate in the initiative by providing road and marine patrols for an indeterminate amount of time in accordance with federal guidelines.
"Essentially, this memorandum allows the city to become part of a group that will be reimbursed for increased security measures along the lake," City Manager Andy White said. "In the event of a catastrophic event, this (memorandum) seeks to put our personnel in touch with different agencies that do aircraft patrol. Our emergency personnel would be available to coordinate activities in that type of event."
Councilman Rick Schaffter wondered how much it will cost the city to participate in the initiative.
"There shouldn't be any additional costs in terms of man-hours to implement this," White replied. "If there is overtime involved, we would audit that and send it to the state for reimbursement."
"As Andy has so well explained, it is going to be good for all of us to work with the federal agencies," Glovinsky said.
Glovinsky said that fighting immigration and crime on the northern border with local agencies assisting the federal government is the wave of the future.
"There is a good chance that the border patrol will open up an office somewhere between here and Port Clinton and it sounds like immigration is sending more agents this way," he said. "The state of Ohio has to have a conduit with local agencies to make this initiative work."
Ohio will receive $46,320,809 in 2007 Fiscal Year Homeland Security Grant funding.