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Will there ever be enough $ to keep Floridians completely safe, GOP state senator asks

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

For the coming year, the state of Florida is asking Washington D.C. to give more than $41 million for domestic security.

That request is prompting one Pensacola Republican to ask if any amount from the feds can indeed make Floridians totally safe.

“Is this the attitude of the American people and Floridians, that we’re willing to spend whatever it takes to be safe in a free society? And can we really do that to make us completely safe? “asked freshman state Sen. Doug Bronson.

“Is there any amount of money that will make us completely safe?”

Broxson aimed his question to Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management and Mark Glass, an intelligence officer with the FDLE, who were giving the committee a presentation on federal domestic security funding. They said that the more than $41 million requested is more than the state actually needs going into next year, and ensures not having to hit the state Legislature up for additional funds.

Last year, the state received approximately $11 million from the feds for domestic security.

Broxson said that, historically, Florida law enforcement responds well when called upon to handle situations involving suspected terrorism. However, he was concerned about the emphasis on creating an infrastructure to respond to such incidents.

“Do you see us spending massive amounts of money in the next few years to create this infrastructure for protection,” Broxson asked. “Is the public demanding that?”

“Senator, those are some big philosophical questions,” Koon responded. He continued that the state takes funds allocated from the Legislature in the best way deemed possible.

“It is not enough to comprehensively cover every potential threat that Florida will face,” Koon said. “We attempt to utilize those funds in a fiscally prudent manner that allows us to share those resources across the state.”

Neither Koon nor Glass was able to answer Broxson’s question about how much the state spent in total on domestic security when you included local law enforcement combined with what different state agencies are spending. “It’d be … impossible in general to put a total dollar guide on what the state spends,” Koon said, acknowledging that it is “a large amount.”

The state will learn in March how much they will get from Washington.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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