Local News

Federal aid for local law enforcement was among the topics discussed during a visit from U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Napolitano stopped in Lexington and Louisville Thursday. In Louisville, she talked with elected officials and first responders about federal aid and programs to fight crime, terrorism and illegal immigration. For example, Louisville scans prisoner’s fingerprints against both FBI records and an immigration database. 170 illegal immigrants were reported by Metro Corrections in Louisville last year, and 247 have been reported so far this year. Napolitano says other cities could be using similar programs soon.

She then added that Louisville is one of many cities eligible to receive more Department of Homeland Security grants for safety programs.

“We literally distribute billions of dollars of grants, or have distributed billions of dollars in grants to states and localities in our existence,” she said. “We have a heavy emphasis on that.”

Napolitano added that much of the money the Department of Homeland Security distributes can only be spent on equipment, which many communities need.

“We were able to get some relaxation this year so they could be used for things like maintenance so we weren’t always going out and buying the next new thing, but really could just be sustaining and maintaining what we already have,” she said.

Napolitano said many cities are also lacking staff, though grants from the stimulus package and the Justice Department have helped hire and retain officers in some areas, including Louisville. Louisville recently received a 6 million dollar grant from the Department of Justice to hire police officers.