TONAWANDA, N.Y. – Niagara County is joining forces with its partners in Erie County in a bid to secure additional Homeland Security money from New York State, according to Tonawanda News.

County Manager Gregory Lewis announced plans during a biweekly press conference to ask the New York State Office of Homeland Security to release $670,500 so that law enforcement agencies in Niagara and Erie counties can purchase additional equipment.



Lewis would like to use Niagara’s portion of the revenue, which is currently being held in a state discretionary fund, to buy a new $240,000 response and rescue vehicle for the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department. The specially equipped mobile unit would be used in response to emergencies or acts of terrorism involving chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats.

Niagara County’s partners in the request — Erie County and the City of Buffalo — are hoping to use their share of the money ($430,500) to build a countywide radio system that could be used by all first responders in their area.

Federal homeland security rules allow states like New York to withhold a portion of the revenue owed to various counties for security purchases. In this case, Lewis said, the state has withheld 20 percent of the federal money dedicated to Niagara and Erie counties who are partners in one of 46 specially designated homeland security regions known as Urban Area Security Initiative areas. Lewis said all three communities are hoping to hear a response to their request from the state Homeland Security Office next month, according to Tonawanda News.