Defense Secretary Dick Cheney has given final approval to 12 states to increase the use of the National Guard in helping police crack down on illegal drugs - the first phase of a $40 million program.
All are border or coastal states, ranging from Florida to Hawaii and Arizona to Washington, and their National Guard plans were "accorded the highest priority for review and implementation," a Pentagon statement said Thursday."Plans from other states have been reviewed and approved by the Department of Defense and have been sent to the Department of Justice for further review. We expect approval of these plans in the near future," the Pentagon said.
The 12 state plans that won final approval vary, but none involves direct participation of National Guardsmen in police activities such as search and seizure.
The plans include detection and monitoring via flight surveillance, aerial photography and other imagery, radar surveillance, long-range reconnaissance, assistance in searching containers, transportation, expanded training of law enforcement personnel and increased loans of military equipment.
Dan Donohue, a spokesman for the National Guard, said the Guard assisted law enforcement agencies in 32 states last year and had a role in the seizure of $1.3 billion worth of illegal drugs.
The new plans increase the role of the Guard, he said, so that it can engage in aerial surveillance, searching containers at ports of entry and in long-range foot patrols in the desert Southwest and elsewhere.
Cheney approved a total of $11.7 million for the 12 states. The state plans and the amount of federal funding approved were:
Alabama, $930,745; Arizona, $176,359; California, $990,407; Florida, $3,413,052; Georgia, $281,904; Hawaii, $247,627; Louisiana, $1,190,820; Mississippi, $468,046; New Mexico, $330,399; Oregon, $474,384; Texas, $2,904,210; and Washington, $369,880.