Following up an in-depth March 8 story examining federal homeland security grants, the nonprofit Texas Tribune has posted a searchable database online that allows visitors to see how cities and counties in the Lone Star State have used anti-terrorism and preparedness grants since 2003.
The Center for Investigative Reporting made the records available to the Austin-based news organization after obtaining them from the Texas Department of Public Safety using open-government laws. Tribune data guru Matt Stiles built the easy-to-use application that enables visitors to compare grant spending per capita, from tiny Loving County ($1,144 for every resident) to the county surrounding the Texas capital (about $1 for each resident).
The database can also be used to search by community for a detailed list in each of actual purchases totaling more than 25,000 expenditures statewide. In Bexar County where San Antonio is located, for example, authorities spent $350,000 on an armored-response vehicle. In the sample box here you can see a $68,000 “WMD kit,” i.e. weapons of mass destruction.
Reporter Brandi Grissom’s main story pointed out that big cities weren’t the only ones to indulge in such high-priced items. A small county southeast of Dallas with fewer than 8,000 people also scooped up a fortified military-style truck. Grissom’s reporting showed that the city of Houston paid professional filmmakers $194,000 for a 22-minute movie on disaster preparedness. Read the story for much more.