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Dallas Jumps To Tier One Status

By Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Dallas, TX –

Dallas just got bumped up to a Tier One city by the Department of Homeland Security, which determines terror threats. That's the top rank, and means additional millions in federal dollars to beef up North Texas security. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports.

Since 9-11, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington have applied for more Homeland Security money based on a variety of needs and only on and off success. This time, with Tier one status, the funds came through. More than $25,000,000 from the government represents a 30 percent jump over last year, according to Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. And he says 10 million of that is for Dallas. He says it does not mean we have more terrorists.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert: It's recognition that you've got the 4th largest metro area in the nation, you've got one that's fully grown substantially over the years and will continue to grow and I think it's also reflective of challenges in world that we have.

In part, Leppert says Dallas is just catching up with other Tier One cities already on the list, like Houston and New York He says funds won't just improve the response to possible violence, but also to natural disasters, like tornadoes and floods. And he says there are lots of reasons we qualified for the money.

Leppert: We're going to have the NEIGHBOR All-Star game, we're going to have the Superbowl, so clearly there's going to be a lot of focus on n Texas. I think all those things are part of the equation.

Those aren't the only ones, says Danny Defenbaugh, who used to be Dallas' FBI agent in charge.

Defenbaugh: Texas motor Speedway on any given weekend. They build a city of, what, shoot, 20 some thousand people that are camping there. You're talking people living there. They literally build a city over the weekends that they have those type of races.

Molly Thoerner, Emergency Preparedness Manager with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, believes the economic value of north Texas likely also played a role in the Tier One status.

Molly Thoerner, NCTCOG: You need to look at the impact that if something happened here to us it would have a huge, huge impact to both the nation and the world.

For example, Thoerner says Dallas/Fort Worth has the 12th largest metropolitan economy in the world. Officials say the money can be spent on people, equipment, technology, training sessions and other expenses.

Defenbaugh And especially because law enforcement does get along so well here together , the money should be put to good use. It'll be used for types of activities and intelligence gathering , technology, that it should be deployed in.

That could mean surveillance cameras, more sophisticated communications equipment, or tools to pull disparate bits of information together into one place to better identify the region's strengths and weaknesses.

Email Bill Zeeble