Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trump's visits increase terrorism risk, Florida County says

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - President Donald Trump's frequent visits to South Florida make the area a high-risk target for terrorism, one that justifies more money from the federal government, Palm Beach County's top law enforcement agency says.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is pushing for the federal government to boost its funding for terrorism prevention by designating Mar-a-Lago - Trump's private club - a "high-risk critical asset," according to a memo obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

"Having the president governing from our county in an area bordered on water on each side in a facility never built to offer the level of protection the president requires is a challenge," Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner said. "We have to continue to supplement our local response."

Trump is making his 12th visit to Mar-a-Lago this weekend since becoming president.

In South Florida, anti-terrorism grants have been used to purchase automated license plate readers, cameras, mobile command centers, night-vision goggles, rescue boats and other specialized equipment.

When the federal government awards anti-terrorism funds, one factor officials examine is the presence of symbolic targets and landmarks. The money is distributed through the Department of Homeland Security's Urban Area Security Initiative.

Homeland Security gave $580 million in Urban Area Security Initiative funds in the 2017 budget year, including about $5.2 million for South Florida. New York City received the largest grant at $178 million.

Funding decisions have been controversial.

Orlando - the site of the Pulse shooting - hasn't received anti-terrorism funds through the Urban Area Security Initiative since 2014. Las Vegas leaders argued after the mass shooting there that Homeland Security undervalued their threat risk, leading to insufficient funding.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has been the lead agency supporting the U.S. Secret Service in protecting Trump's estate since Trump was elected.

More than 1,300 employees have worked over 40,000 hours protecting Trump during his visits, an expense that has exceeded $3 million, according to the sheriff's office. Ultimately, the county received reimbursement for those expenses in a special appropriation through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But sheriff's officials say additional Homeland Security funding could help offset future costs. They asked for the high-risk designation in an application to receive reimbursement for overtime costs associated with protecting the president.

While anti-terrorism grants could help keep Mar-a-Lago safe, Trump's proposed budget calls for cutting the Urban Area Security Initiative program by 25 percent.

The budget prioritizes building a border wall and hiring 500 more Border Patrol agents.

Trump's visits increase terrorism risk, Florida County says 01/13/18 [Last modified: Saturday, January 13, 2018 6:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term


    CLEARWATER — By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows he's now considered part of the old-guard.

  2. Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning


    CLEARWATER — Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.

  3. Inside American Stage's plan to offer free or reduced admission to young people



    An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated the set of A Raisin in the Sun, opening Jan. 26 at American …

  4. After half a century, World Liquors sign may finally come down


    ST. PETERSBURG — The demise of the distinctive sign has been rumored many times.

  5. Crystal Lagoon planners brace for chilly ribbon cutting today

    Real Estate

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.